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The new tests are intended to help the technology company prepare for the use of ammonia as a fuel that can cut greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping and energy sectors.

As part of the test programme, ammonia was injected into a combustion research unit to better understand its properties. Based on initial results, says Wärtsilä, the tests will then be continued on both dual-fuel and spark-ignited gas engines. These will be followed by field tests in collaboration with ship owners from 2022, and potentially also with energy customers in the future.

‘The first tests have yielded promising results and we will continue to optimise combustion parameters, said Kaj Portin, General Manager, Fuel & Operational Flexibility, Wärtsilä Marine.

‘This is an important step in making sure that Wärtsilä can provide the engine and fuel systems that ship owners need, whichever fuel they choose in the future.

The tests form part of Wärtsilä's strategy to develop a complete ammonia fuel solution comprising engines, fuel supply and storage. The company says it is working with ship owners, shipbuilders, classification societies and fuel suppliers to learn more about system and safety requirements, as well as fuel composition, emissions and efficiency.

Wärtsilä is developing ammonia storage and supply systems as part of a project 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 ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by after-treatment or by optimising the combustion process. Wärtsilä highlights that a regulatory framework and class rules will need to be developed for its use as a marine fuel.

GLOBAL: DNV GL adds ammonia price stats to alternative fuels platform

GLOBAL: UK’s Royal Society champions the use of ammonia to decarbonise the maritime industry

GLOBAL: Industry alliance teaming up to develop ammonia-fuelled tanker

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