- Operations - Wärtsilä's ammonia advancements

By Dario Schiavo

Wärtsilä's ammonia advancements

The Finnish tech leader has built an advanced engine, gearing up for the arrival of eco-friendly 'green ammonia' fuel…

Did you know that ammonia can be (figuratively) green? Well, Wärtsilä, the Finnish technology group, has introduced a four-stroke engine-based solution for ammonia fuel, marking a notable stride in sustainable maritime transport. The new ammonia solution is part of the Wärtsilä 25 engine platform.

In terms of the solution’s application in the superyacht industry, Lucas Esselström, Product Manager, Wärtsilä 25, Wärtsilä Marine Power assures SuperyachtNews that the technology can be directly implemented in the fleet.

“The ammonia solution is developed for marine applications in general, not ruling out Superyacht vessels,” he says “However, the interest on passenger vessels has been lower than for merchant or offshore ships.”

When used as a fuel, ammonia, produced through sustainable processes, can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “This industry-leading solution is yet another flagship moment in Wärtsilä’s extensive programme to ensure future marine fuels are both viable and safe,” says Håkan Agnevall, President and CEO of Wärtsilä.

“Working in partnership with Viridis Bulk Carriers, we take the next step in our decarbonisation journey, enabling the transition to greener fuels and accelerating towards net-zero emissions shipping.”

Ammonia is gaining traction as a potential fuel in the maritime sector due to its ability to provide a carbon-free energy source. As Bill David, an Oxford University chemistry professor, says, “Ammonia is the only zero-carbon fuel that will take us across the oceans.” But he warned: “In terms of emissions from industrial processes, ammonia comes only after cement and steel, so we need to decarbonise the production of ammonia.”

‘Green ammonia’, or carbon-free ammonia, is produced through water electrolysis. In this process, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity. The hydrogen is then combined with nitrogen, often extracted directly from the air, to produce ammonia. The use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar to generate power for the process then results in ‘green ammonia’.

This fuel has various prospective applications in achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions across the maritime sector. Notably, it serves as an energy reserve and can be easily stored in large quantities as a liquid at moderate pressures or even refrigerated.

Wärtsilä’s solution also includes the AmmoniaPac fuel gas supply system, Wärtsilä Ammonia Release Mitigation System (WARMS), and NOx Reducer (NOR). Whilst the Wärtsilä 25 engine can operate on ammonia, it is also capable of operating on various fuels.

“The Wärtsilä 25 is the first Wärtsilä engine to run on ammonia as a fuel, and this is an important milestone, but we do not stop here,” adds Stefan Nysjö, Vice President of Power Supply, Wärtsilä Marine Power.

“While we are planning for additional ammonia engines in our portfolio over time, we are also committed to continuing development and testing of technologies and solutions that can continue to support the industry with reducing greenhouse gas emissions even further in the future.”

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