A consortium of shipping stakeholders, coordinated by the technology group Wärtsilä, is working to develop demonstrators for two-stroke and four-stroke marine engines running on ammonia fuel.

The Ammonia 2-4 project, with participation from naval architects C-Job, classification society DNV, shipowner MSC and the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy, aims to advance viable concepts for ammonia fuel.

The project has also secured €10 million in funding from the Europen Union through the Horizon Europe research funding initiative.

As informed, 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.

According to Wärtsilä, the Ammonia 2-4 project will further develop concepts around fuel handling and safety as well as contribute inputs towards a regulatory framework for ammonia.

Sebastiaan Bleuanus, general manager of Research Coordination & Funding at Wärtsilä Marine Power, explained: “Ammonia is one of the 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 the development of the solutions shipping will need.”

Back in July 2021, Wärtsilä performed several full-scale engine tests running on ammonia and hydrogen as part of its net-zero test program.

The company reported “encouraging results”, with one test engine performing very well when running on fuel with 70% ammonia content at a typical marine load range. The other tests were also completed successfully on an engine in pure hydrogen operation.

Shortly after, the Finnish company signed a joint development programme (JDP) agreement with Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) aimed at developing ammonia-fueled vessels with four-stroke auxiliary engines available for future newbuild projects.

According to its “Set for 30” strategy, Wärtsilä plans to become carbon-neutral in its own operations as well as to provide a product portfolio to be ready for zero-carbon fuels.

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