Wartsila has launched a major test programme to advance the adoption of hydrogen and ammonia as viable engine fuels for power and marine applications through advanced testing on its fuel-flexible combustion engines.

Full-scale engine tests recently carried out in Wärtsilä's engine laboratory in Vaasa, Finland, to assess the optimum engine parameters for running on these fuels produced ‘very encouraging’ results, with one test engine performing very well when running on a fuel with 70% ammonia content at a typical marine load range. Tests were also completed successfully on another engine in pure hydrogen operation. 

Testing will continue throughout the coming years with the aim of defining the most feasible internal combustion engine-based solutions for both applications, helping to promote the transition to a decarbonised future with green fuels. 

For the energy market, Wärtsilä expects to have an engine and plant concept for pure hydrogen operation ready by 2025. For the marine market, it expects to have an engine running on an ammonia blend during this year, and having an engine concept with pure ammonia fuel in 2023. In the energy sector, it is anticipated that green hydrogen will deliver 7 % of the global energy demand by 2050.

Wärtsilä is also developing ammonia storage and supply systems as part of the EU’s ShipFC project. It will begin testing ammonia in a marine four-stroke combustion engine together with customers Knutsen OAS, Repsol Norway and Equinor at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre in Stord, Norway, as part of the Demo2000 project.

Wärtsilä’s fuel agnostic approach enables the company to support the energy and marine sectors on how to shape sustainable, and efficient, future fuel strategies in several cost-optimal steps. For example, hydrogen can be used as a fuel in its existing state or as a raw material for producing a wide range of future fuels, including ammonia and synthetic methane, each of which has different benefits for industrial and mobility applications.  

The company’s engines can currently run on natural gas, biogas, synthetic methane or hydrogen blends of up to 25% hydrogen. An important property of future engines will be the ability to transition to future fuels, including pure hydrogen and ammonia, future-proofing customer assets.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set a target to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 50 % by 2050 compared to 2008 levels. In addition, a target has been set to reduce the carbon intensity of shipping by 40 % by 2030, thus emphasising the need for the rapid introduction of existing and new smart technologies.