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Wartsila to conduct first full-scale ammonia engine test

Technology group Wartsila is claiming to start the world’s first long term, full-scale testing of ammonia as a marine fuel in four-stroke combustion engine, along with partners Knutsen OAS Shipping, Repsol and Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre.

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

The testing is made possible by a NOK20m grant from the Norwegian Research Council through Norway’s DEMO 2000 programme.

The DEMO 2000 programme works to ensure close collaboration between the supplier industry, petroleum companies and research institutes, with the aim of demonstrating and qualifying new technology and systems for upstream petroleum activities.

“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,” said Tina Bru, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy.  

“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,” Bru said.

Ammonia is believed to be a promising carbon-free fuel for marine applications, in view of the maritime industry’s need to fulfil the IMO’s vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050 from 2008 levels.

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

“A future implementation of ammonia as a carbon free fuel, combined with clean energy production from offshore wind or other renewable energy sources can be the start of a new industrial era for the Norwegian industry,” commented Egil Hystad, general manager, market innovation at Wartsila Marine Business.

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