Marine engine to be tested running on ammonia

The world’s first long term, full-scale testing of ammonia as a fuel in a marine four-stroke combustion engine is about to commence. This is made possible by a 20 million Norwegian kroner (about 1.83 million euros) grant from the Norwegian Research Council through the DEMO 2000 programme.

The test will be carried out by Wärtsilä, Knutsen OAS Shipping AS, Repsol and Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre.

Ammonia is promising as a carbon-free fuel for marine applications, in view of the maritime industry’s need to fulfil the International Maritime Organisation’s vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least fifty per cent by 2050. Ammonia also has potential for providing green energy to remote power systems, such as offshore installations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

‘We need to develop and use new technologies that reduce emissions,’ says Tina Bru, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy. ‘We are very happy to support development work that can lead to increased use of ammonia as a fuel in shipping and in the offshore sector. Know-how from this project will also provide important input to the development of regulations for the use of ammonia and other low-carbon fuels.’

Four-stroke combustion engine

Development work by Wärtsilä, as it prepares for the use of ammonia as a fuel, continues with this testing programme, which will be the world`s first full-scale four-stroke combustion engine test. The project will commence in the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre’s testing facilities at Stord, Norway during the first quarter of 2021.

‘We are really excited to further develop and understand the combustion properties of ammonia as a carbon free fuel in one of our multi-fuel engines,’ says Egil Hystad, General Manager, Market Innovation at Wärtsilä Marine Business.

‘Ammonia storage and supply systems will be designed and developed for maximum personal safety, and in parallel with the Fuel Gas Handling System under development as part of the EU project ShipFC. This project is coordinated by NCE Maritime CleanTech, and it involves an ammonia driven fuel cell which will be tested on the Eidesvik Offshore supply vessel, Viking Energy,’ Hystad continues.

Picture: One of Wärtsilä’s four-stroke engines, the 31SG (by Wärtsilä).

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.