Photo: Illustration/Courtesy of SHI

Wärtsilä, SHI partner up on ammonia-fuelled engines for future newbuilds

Finnish technology group Wärtsilä and Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) have signed a joint development programme (JDP) agreement aimed at developing ammonia-fuelled vessels with 4-stroke auxiliary engines available for future newbuild projects.

As explained, both parties have recognised the importance of future carbon-free fuels in the marine industry’s drive towards decarbonisation and therefore, they signed the agreement in July 2021.

Wärtsilä develops engines for operation on future clean fuels and has already tested an engine running with a fuel mix containing 70 percent ammonia.

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The company anticipates having an engine concept capable of operating with 100 percent ammonia in 2023.

“There is a lot of interest from owners and operators in the potential for new clean-burning fuels, and ammonia is thought to be among the most promising of these candidates. Wärtsilä has already made significant progress in testing ammonia, and we are pleased to work together with them to bring this to reality,” Youngkyu Ahn, Vice President, SHI, commented.

“Decarbonisation has become the industry’s goal, and we at Wärtsilä are committed to doing everything possible to achieve this ambition. The adoption of a new generation of carbon-free fuels is central to a decarbonised future for shipping, so this JDP agreement represents an important step forward,” Östen Lindell, Sales Director, Wärtsilä Marine Power, said.

According to the Korean shipbuilder, the most likely initial newbuild targets for ships utilising ammonia fuel will be container vessels and very large crude carriers, operating with 2-stroke main engines and 4-stroke Wärtsilä auxiliary engines.

Last month, SHI secured an approval in principle (AiP) from Norwegian classification society DNV for the basic design of ammonia fuel-ready very large crude carrier (VLCC). The ammonia-ready notation reflects the fact that the ship’s hull structure, fuel tank specifications and risk assessment can be readily converted for operation on ammonia.

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ABS releases guide to ammonia-fuelled vessels

The abovementioned JDP announcement by Wärtsilä and SHI coincided with the publishing of the guidance for the design and construction of ammonia-fuelled vessels by classification society ABS.

The ABS Guide for Ammonia-Fueled Vessels sets out classification design criteria for the arrangements, construction, installation and survey of machinery, equipment and systems for vessels operating with ammonia as fuel to minimize risks to the vessel, crew and the environment.

“The industry is looking at ammonia as one of the pathways towards the decarbonization goals for beyond 2030. It is a fuel with high potential as a solution for shipping companies looking to decarbonize their operations. It offers shipowners and operators a zero-carbon tank-to-wake emissions footprint but is not without challenges,” Georgios Plevrakis, ABS Director, Global Sustainability, noted.

Specifically, the guide is supported by notations recognizing where a vessel is arranged to burn ammonia for propulsion or auxiliary purposes and is designed, constructed and tested in accordance with the requirements of the guide.  

The vessel LFFS notation will be issued in tandem with suffixes denoting dual-fuel propulsion (DFD) or reliquefaction systems (RELIQ) and with the remote monitoring notations (ACC, ACCU or ABCU), depending on the individual vessel arrangement.