World’s 1st Ammonia-Powered Fuel Cell to Be Installed on a Vessel

A consortium co-ordinated by the Norwegian cluster organization NCE Maritime CleanTech which wants to install an ammonia-powered fuel cell on a vessel has won EUR 10 million funding from the European Union.

Viking Energy Photo Eidesvik

The project will see an offshore vessel, Viking Energy, which is owned and operated by Norwegian company Eidesvik and on contract to energy major Equinor, have a large 2MW ammonia fuel cell retrofitted, allowing it to sail solely on the clean fuel for up to 3,000 hours annually.  The ship-side ammonia system will be supplied by Wärtsilä.

According to the project developers, this is the first time ever an ammonia-powered fuel-cell will be installed on a vessel.

The endeavor aims to demonstrate that long-range zero-emission voyages with high power on larger ships is possible. The goal is also to ensure that a large fuel cell can deliver total electric power to shipboards systems safely and effectively.

The ShipFC project is being run by a consortium of 14 European companies, including Eidesvik Shipping, Equinor, Yara and Wärtsilä. The financial backing has been secured from the EU’s Research and Innovation program Horizon 2020 under its Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).

“We see projects such as the ShipFC conversion to use ammonia on a high-powered marine fuel cell as an important step in finding the right sustainable and clean solutions in the future. Our ongoing collaboration with Eidesvik is testament to a long- standing belief that we can achieve our goals by working constructively towards that vision,” says Senior Vice President for Joint Operations Support in Equinor, Cecilie Rønning.

“Shipping has agreed to the goal of decarbonising by the end of the century and to have achieved a global 50% cut by 2050 based on 2008 levels.  As we move onto the right trajectory to achieve these targets, we see interest in new fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen increasing. Ammonia is an abundant energy source and can easily be made from renewable resources making it one of the fuels that will likely meet part of shipping’s future energy demand,” NCE Maritime Cleantech cluster chief executive Hege Økland says.

The consortium also wants to scale up the 100-kilowatt fuel cell to 2 megawatts. The fuel cell is tested on land in a parallel project and development and construction will be undertaken by Prototech. Testing will be executed at the Sustainable Energy Norwegian Catapult Centre.

Norwegian crop nutrition company Yara has been contracted to supply the green ammonia which will be produced by electrolysis and delivered to Viking Energy containerised to enable easy and safe refuelling.

Another part of the ShipFC project will perform studies on three other vessel types, namely offshore construction vessels and two cargo vessel types, to illustrate the ability to transfer this technology to other segments of the shipping industry.

The ammonia fuel cell system is scheduled to be installed in Viking Energy in late 2023.