Through sophisticated testing in Wärtsilä’s fuel-flexible combustion engines, the business is pioneering the use of hydrogen and ammonia as viable engine fuels.
Because hydrogen and ammonia contain no carbon, combustion produces no CO2. Full-scale engine tests were recently conducted in Wärtsilä’s engine laboratory in Vaasa, Finland, to determine the best engine settings for running on these fuels. The test findings are highly encouraging, with one test engine functioning very well when running on a fuel with a 70 percent ammonia concentration at a typical marine load range. Tests on another engine in pure hydrogen operation were also completed satisfactorily.
Testing will continue in the following years with the goal of establishing the most practicable internal combustion engine-based solutions for power plant and maritime applications, allowing the transition to a low-carbon future powered by green fuels.
Wärtsilä intends to have a pure hydrogen engine and plant concept ready by 2025 for the energy market. The business intends to have an engine running on an ammonia blend for the maritime sector this year. Wärtsilä expects to have a pure ammonia engine idea in 2023. Green hydrogen is expected to meet 7% of world energy consumption by 2050, according to the energy sector.
As part of the EU’s ShipFC project, Wärtsilä is also researching ammonia storage and supply systems. The company has previously garnered valuable ammonia knowledge by creating cargo handling systems for liquid petroleum gas carrier boats, many of which transport ammonia. In addition, as part of the Demo2000 project, Wärtsilä will begin testing ammonia in a maritime four-stroke combustion engine with customers Knutsen OAS, Repsol Norway, and Equinor at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre in Stord, Norway.
Wärtsilä’s fuel-agnostic strategy enables the business to advise the energy and maritime industries on how to develop sustainable and efficient future fuel strategies in a series of cost-effective steps. For example, hydrogen can be utilized as a fuel in its current form or as a raw material for the production of a variety of future fuels, such as ammonia and synthetic methane, each of which has distinct advantages for industrial and transportation uses. Wärtsilä’s gas engines are very adaptable, with the ability to rapidly ramp up or down in power. When wind and solar output fluctuate due to weather conditions, Wärtsilä engines can help the power system by ramping up power to match the load, reaching full capacity in less than two minutes.
Currently, the company’s engines may run on natural gas, biogas, synthetic methane, or hydrogen mixes containing up to 25% hydrogen. Another significant step forward will be the ability of Wärtsilä engines to switch to future fuels, such as pure hydrogen and ammonia, thereby future-proofing customer assets.