Wärtsilä, Samsung Heavy Industries developing ammonia-fueled engines for newbuilds

By Jack Burke22 September 2021

Ammonia ‘promising’ fuel on road to decarbonization, companies say

Wärtsilä and the Korean shipbuilding company Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) will work together to develop ammonia-fueled vessels with 4-stroke auxiliary engines available for future newbuild projects. Both companies stressed the importance of future carbon-free fuels in the marine industry’s drive towards decarbonization.

Wärtsilä said it has already successfully tested an engine running with a fuel mix containing 70% ammonia. The company anticipates having an engine concept capable of operating with 100% ammonia in 2023.

Full-scale tests are being carried out by the Wärtsilä’s engine laboratory team in Vaasa to assess the optimum engine parameters for running on hydrogen and ammonia fuels. Wärtsilä and the Korean shipbuilding company Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) have signed a joint development program (JDP) agreement aimed at developing ammonia-fueled vessels with 4-stroke auxiliary engines available for future newbuild projects.

“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,” said Youngkyu Ahn, Vice President, SHI. “Wärtsilä has already made significant progress in testing ammonia, and we are pleased to work together with them to bring this to reality.”

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

“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 decarbonized future for shipping, so this JDP agreement represents an important step forward,” said Östen Lindell, sales director, Wärtsilä Marine Power.

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