TECHNOLOGY group Wärtsilä is progressing its research and development of ammonia as a maritime fuel source.

The company, in close co-operation with Knutsen OAS Shipping AS and Repsol, as well as with the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre – is to begin the world’s first long-term, full-scale, testing of ammonia as a fuel in a marine four-stroke combustion engine.

The testing is made possible by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council.

Tina Bru, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, said, “This is a great example that illustrates the importance of dedicated petroleum R&D”.

“This DEMO 2000 project is another steppingstone for reaching our ambitious climate targets and it is also aligned with our recently published hydrogen strategy,” Ms Bru said.

“We need to develop and use new technologies that reduce emissions. 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.”

Ammonia is promising as a carbon-free fuel for marine applications, in view of the maritime industry’s need to fulfil the International Maritime Organization’s vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050.

Furthermore, ammonia has huge potential for providing green energy to remote power systems, such as offshore installations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

The project will commence in the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre’s testing facilities at Stord, Norway during the first quarter of 2021.

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“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,” said 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.”

Wärtsilä, as part of its development work on future fuels, has studied the use of ammonia as a future carbon-free fuel through the ZEEDS initiative. The company’s first ammonia combustions tests were commenced in Vaasa, Finland, in winter 2020, and will continue with this long-term testing at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre facilities in Stord.

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