Mitsubishi Shipbuilding to develop an ammonia fuel supply system for WinGD

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., part of the Japanese major Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, will conduct technical studies on an ammonia fuel supply system for large, low-speed two-stroke marine engines which are being developed by Swiss marine engine maker Winterthur Gas & Diesel AG (WinGD).

Image credit MHI

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the duo was formally signed at WinGD Headquarters in Switzerland on June 2 and will see the two companies work together on developing ammonia-fuelled vessels.

WinGD’s ongoing development of ammonia-fueled large, low-speed two-stroke marine engines, known as type “X-DF-A,” will now benefit from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding’s expertise and technical prowess in studying the technologies required to develop and commercialize an efficient ammonia fuel supply system for these engines.

The project will see WinGD applying its X-DF-A ammonia-fuelled engines to a range of vessel designs, with Mitsubishi both designing the vessels and completing the fuel chain with its ammonia fuel supply system (AFSS).

“This collaboration will give both Mitsubishi and WinGD an important first-mover advantage in using ammonia in marine engines to meet IMO decarbonisation targets. It will set the path for the new generation of technology applicable to a wide range of vessels over the next decades,” Manabu Kawakado, Head of Marine Engineering Centre, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., said.
Under the partnership, WinGD will develop X-DF-A engines at appropriate sizes for the vessel designs, providing Mitsubishi with the specifications for installing the engines and the requirements for all auxiliary fuel systems. Mitsubishi will design the vessels, set performance parameters for the engines and further develop its existing AFSS for use with WinGD’s ammonia engines.
“This project will allow WinGD and Mitsubishi to make further progress in bringing ammonia-fuelled capability to merchant vessels within our established future fuel development timeframe,” Dominik Schneiter, Vice President R&D, WinGD said.

“It is a timely opportunity to apply X-DF-A engines across a wider range of bore sizes. Our aim is to develop the applicability of these engines and their critical fuel elements across multiple vessel types, while upholding the highest standards for environmental impact and for the safety of the crew on board.”
The project will commence in the third quarter of 2023, with a timeline considered that could place vessels in service by 2027.

The deal is being announced on the back of Mitsubishi Shipbuilding’s delivery of ammonia supply system for large, low-speed two-stroke marine engines to Japan Engine Corporation (J-ENG).

 J-ENG is actively testing ammonia fuel under diverse conditions using an experimental large-scale, low-speed two-stroke marine engine located at the MHI Research & Innovation Center in Nagasaki District, Japan.

The ammonia fuel supply system supplied by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding has been installed at the Nagasaki District facility, and supplies the ammonia fuel used to conduct the tests.

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Mitsubishi Shipbuilding’s involvement in ammonia builds on the extensive experience in building multi-gas carriers for transporting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and ammonia, and the company believes that it is well-equipped with the technological expertise necessary to drive decarbonization efforts forward.

Ammonia has emerged as a highly promising fuel in the maritime industry due to its complete lack of CO2 emissions when combusted. This characteristic positions ammonia as a key player in the reduction of GHG emissions, making it a viable and clean energy source for the future.

In a race to decarbonize the maritime industry, major engine manufacturers worldwide are vying to develop ammonia-powered engines for ships. With ammonia emerging as a key player in reducing GHG emissions, companies like MAN Energy Solutions and Mitsubishi Shipbuilding are spearheading initiatives to revolutionize the industry’s energy sources.

Leading the charge, MAN Energy Solutions has set an ambitious target to develop a two-stroke marine engine powered by ammonia by 2024, followed by a retrofit package for the gradual rebuild of existing maritime vessels by 2025.

In line with that, MAN ES has launched single-cylinder tests of its ammonia engine at its test bed facility in Copenhagen.

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Meanwhile, WinGD is working with Belgian shipping and cleantech group CMB.TECH on the development of ammonia-fuelled two-stroke engines.

The companies aim to install the ammonia dual-fuel X72DF engine on a series of up to nine 210,000 DWT bulk carriers to be built at a Chinese shipyard in 2025 and 2026. The ships are being built for CMB’s sister firm Bocimar in line with the contract signed last year.

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WinGD said that the new engines will be based on the X92B engine, as its fuel efficiency makes it an ideal starting point for developing large-bore ammonia-fuelled engines.

The series of large bulk carriers powered by WinGD’s ammonia engines have been described as the first of its kind and proof that large sea-going vessels can be powered by zero-carbon fuels.