Wärtsilä tests pure hydrogen/ammonia engines

Finland-based technology group Wärtsilä has performed several full-scale engine tests running on ammonia and hydrogen as part of its new net-zero test program.

Illustration; Photo by: Wärtsilä

As informed, the tests were carried out in Wärtsilä’s engine laboratory in Vaasa, Finland, to assess the optimum engine parameters for running on these fuels.

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, Wärtsilä claims.

“Testing will continue throughout the coming years with the aim of defining the most feasible internal combustion engine-based solutions for power plant and marine applications, thereby enabling the transition to a decarbonised future with green fuels,” according to Wärtsilä.

The technology group expects to have an engine running on an ammonia blend already this year and an engine concept with pure ammonia fuel in 2023. 

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Furthermore, the firm believes that it will have an engine and plant concept for pure hydrogen operation ready by 2025. In the energy sector, green hydrogen will deliver 7 percent of the global energy demand by 2050, Wärtsilä said.

Currently, its engines can use natural gas, biogas, synthetic methane or blends containing up to 25% hydrogen.

“Society will have to invest significant amounts into the infrastructure needed to develop green hydrogen, but those investments require market-ready engines that can run on the fuel once it is readily available,” Håkan Agnevall, CEO of Wärtsilä commented.

“The energy and marine industries are on a decarbonisation journey, and the fuel flexibility of the engines powering these sectors is key to enable the transformation.” 

In addition to these tests, Wärtsilä will begin testing ammonia in a marine four-stroke combustion engine together with companies Knutsen OAS, Repsol Norway, and Equinor at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre in Stord, Norway, as part of the Demo2000 project.

Moreover, the company also noted that it is currently developing ammonia storage and supply systems as part of the European Union’s (EU) ShipFC project. 

“To achieve the transition to 100% renewable energy by the middle of the century, a significant amount of flexible balancing power is needed as a complement to ensure stable energy supply, when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, There will be different balancing power technologies, but combustion engines and battery storage will be part of the core solutions,” Agnevall concluded.