MAN ES Promises ‘Future-Proof’ Ammonia Retrofit Package

By Jack Burke22 September 2020

As it moves to “future-proof” its portfolio, MAN Energy Solutions said it will have an ammonia retrofit package by 2025.

“We are working to have a package ready for retrofits by early 2025, approximately one year after the first ammonia engine is delivered to the yard,” said Brian Østergaard Sørensen, vice president, head of R&D Two-Stroke Business.

MAN Energy Solutions expects to offer retrofit conversion of two-stroke engines to use Ammonia (NH3) as fuel, preferable meeting vessels 5-year docking schedules, after the first quarter of 2025. Ammonia can be burned in an engine without producing any CO2 or carbon and may be stored either as a liquid at -34C or at normal temperatures under around 10 bar pressure.

Challenges ahead

Still, a lot of work must be done before the engines are ready for the market, he said.

“We are confident that we can get ammonia to combust for us,” he said. “That is not the main area of concern… keeping safety in check remembering that ammonia is toxic and it has a very strong smell and we need to do things a little differently than what we have done in some of our other engine platforms.”

To that end, the company will be studying ammonia’s emissions profile through 2022, aim for full-scale engine development in 2023 and delivering the first engines to shipyards in 2024.

Challenges include ammonia slip and the formation of NOX and especially the formation of nitrous oxide (N20), which is considered to be 300 times more potent than CO2.

“Those two categories of emissions (ammonia slip and NOX) we are confident can be dealt with by abatement technologies already available today, whereas N20 formation will have to be dealt with in case that comes up,” he said. “Today we are dealing with (N20) in the chemical industry, but it requires quite high exhaust temperatures and higher temperatures than what we have available today. So our focus in the development will basically be on not having N20 formation, but this will have to be investigated.”

Sørensen acknowledged that regulatory obstacles, ammonia price and availability, as well as infrastructure, were challenges to the introduction of ammonia engines.

“We are not so concerned about the technology onboard—we are confident we can solve that,” he said. It’s on the supply side, making ammonia available in the right quantities at the right price and in the right locations; that would require significant more investments than you would see on the vessel side.”

Existing regulations governing the transportation of toxic products would need to be also updated to permit the use of ammonia, Sørensen said. On the other hand, ammonia is already a known quantity in the shipping industry because it is already transported.

The ammonia engine will use the architecture of the MAN B&W ME-LGIP engine.

Retrofit solution

The retrofit solution is intended to meet the demand for low-carbon solutions to meet the targets set by IMO and some shipowners. Meeting such targets will require solutions to be developed for existing ships, Sørensen noted.

“So along with the development of an ammonia engine, we will be looking at into a retrofit package, because if we want to meet the ambitious goals of IMO, we do not believe that you can only look at new vessels,” he said.

The upgrade package will be aimed at MAN ES’ existing ME-C, ME-LGIP and ME-LGI engines, and will draw on MAN ES’ existing modular engine design philosophy. “We want to retain the modules and architecture of existing engine platforms as far as possible, only touching on the components needed.”

The advantages of such a modular approach include improved efficiency and a reduction in cost, Sørensen noted.

“So we will actually be taking that experience and build it into, into the retrofit package for ammonia, making sure that we use modular concepts, wherever it’s possible to make the installation as easy as possible and maybe reduce time at the shipyard,” he said.

Similar retrofit packages were already available or under development for MAN ES’ other dual-fuel solutions. He said there is lot of interchangeability between the different platforms so retrofitting isn’t a difficult challenge.

“Basically we want to make sure you’re not ended up with a stranded asset if regulations should come into play or if other external factors should change, then we want to make sure that  you can actually switch and retrofit for new types of fuel, so basically future-proofing your investment.”

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