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Wärtsilä conducts first combustion trials on ammonia as a carbon-free fuel

March 30, 2020

Green Marine partner Wärtsilä has initiated combustion trials to prepare itself for the use of ammonia as a fuel that can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) from shipping and the energy sectors.

As part of the tests, ammonia was injected into a combustion research unit to better understand its properties. Based on initial results, the tests will be continued on both dual-fuel and spark-ignited gas engines. These will be followed by field tests in collaboration with ship owners starting in 2022.

The tests are the latest step in Wärtsilä’s efforts to develop a complete ammonia fuel solution in terms of engines, supply and storage. The company is working with ship owners, ship builders, classification societies and fuel suppliers to learn more about system and safety requirements, as well as fuel composition, emissions and efficiency.

Wärtsilä is developing ammonia storage and supply systems as part of a project to install ammonia fuel cells aboard Eidesvik Offshore’s supply vessel Viking Energy by 2023. The company has also gained significant experience with ammonia from designing cargo handling systems for liquid petroleum gas (LPG) carriers, many of which transport ammonia.

Ammonia is a promising, carbon-free fuel as shipping explores how to fulfil the International Maritime Organization’s goal of reducing GHG emissions from shipping. Although ammonia is derived mainly from fossil sources today, its GHG footprint can almost be eliminated in future if it is produced using electricity from renewable sources. Ammonia has a number of properties that require further investigation.