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Wärtsilä coordinating EU-funded project to accelerate ammonia engine development

A consortium of shipping stakeholders aims to develop demonstrators for two-stroke and four-stroke marine engines running on ammonia fuel. The Ammonia 2-4 project seeks to advance viable concepts for ammonia fuel. The project is coordinated by technology group Wärtsilä, with participation from naval architects C-Job, classification society DNV, ship owner MSC and the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy. It has secured €10 million in funding from the European Union through the Horizon Europe research funding initiative.

Ammonia is one of main candidates in shipping’s search for future fuels. Wärtsilä has already proven an engine concept running on blends of up to 70% ammonia so far and will have a concept running on pure ammonia by 2023. This project is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate development of the solutions shipping will need.

—Sebastiaan Bleuanus, General Manager, Research Coordination & Funding, Wärtsilä Marine Power

The outcomes of the project will include a lab-based demonstrator for the four-stroke ammonia engine, and a lab-based test engine followed by a vessel retrofit for the two-stroke version by 2025.

As well as advancing the engine concepts, the Ammonia 2-4 project will further develop concepts around fuel handling and safety as well as contributing inputs towards a regulatory framework for ammonia.

Wärtsilä is developing ammonia storage and supply systems as part of the EU project ShipFC to install ammonia fuel cells on 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 carriers, many of which are used to transport ammonia.

Ammonia has a number of properties that require further investigation. It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process. A regulatory framework and class rules will need to be developed for its use as a marine fuel.


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