Full scale ammonia engine tests to begin in 2021


Project leaders Egil Hystad (left) and Kjell Storelid (right) of Wärtsilä flank Willy Wågen of the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre at its test facility at Stord, Norway.Project leaders Egil Hystad (left) and Kjell Storelid (right) of Wärtsilä flank Willy Wågen of the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre at its test facility at Stord, Norway.



Wärtsilä is to begin long term, full-scale, testing of ammonia as a fuel from Q1 2021. The tests will be conducted on a marine four-stroke combustion engine at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre in Stord, Norway will be conducted in close cooperation with Knutsen OAS Shipping AS and Repsol.

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.

“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.

The Norwegian Research Council has provided a NOK20 million (US$2m) grant for the tests through its DEMO 2000 programme.

“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.

From testing to real operations

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 began conducting ammonia combustion tests at its research centre in Vaasa, Finland, in winter 2020.

“We are extremely pleased to be part of this project that will prove for the industry the robustness of ammonia as fuel. The project confirms our test facilities’ and Norway’s leading position within the testing and development of solutions for the use of maritime carbon-free fuels”, says Willie Wågen, CEO of Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre.

The Stord centre is part of the Norwegian Catapult programme that facilitates a national infrastructure for innovation. The programme is run by SIVA in close cooperation with Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Research Council and financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

The full-scale fuel testing programme can pave the way for ammonia engines to be used in real vessel operations within few years, and several shipowners have shown interest in this possibility.

The tests will also provide important insights into the long-term effect of an ammonia fuelled engine in relation to other systems and components in a vessel, including the required safety measures.

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