Wärtsilä, Norwegian ship owner plan world’s first ammonia conversion project

By Jack Burke08 October 2021

70% ammonia blend to start, with a goal of 100% 

In what they say will be an industry first, Wärtsilä and Norwegian ship owner Eidesvik Offshore ASA said they plan to convert an offshore supply vessel (OSV) to operate with an ammonia-fueled combustion engine.

The OSV considered for a retrofit currently has Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines operating primarily with LNG fuel. The conversion will allow the vessel to operate with a 70% ammonia blend. Wärtsilä has already successfully laboratory tested an engine fueled with a 70% ammonia blend. The ultimate goal is to achieve operation with 100% ammonia and with a minimum ignition fuel requirement.

As a fuel, ammonia has the potential to drastically reduce emissions of CO2, the companies said. Both Wärtsilä and Eidesvik have stated their commitment to supporting the industry’s efforts to decarbonize its operations.

“Using ammonia as a fuel is seen as a key future contributor to shipping’s energy transition, and we’re excited to be the first offshore ship owner taking this step. This project is yet another confirmation of our strong reputation as a pioneer in implementing new environmental technologies in both newbuilds and the existing fleet,” said Eidesvik CEO & President Jan Fredrik Meling.

The conversion is expected to be completed in late 2023.

Following the installation of an ammonia-driven fuel cell system in 2024, Eidesvik Offshore’s Viking Energy will become the world's first supply vessel to sail long distances without emissions of greenhouse gases. Now, the Norwegian company is working with Wartsila to convert an offshore supply vessel (OSV) to operate with an ammonia-fuelled combustion engine with the required fuel supply and safety system.

“Collaborating with Eidesvik on this groundbreaking project is an exciting and important step towards carbon-free shipping,” said Hans Petter Nesse, managing director of Wärtsilä Norway. “Naturally we are also working with classification societies on measures to ensure safe and environmentally sustainable use. We are already well advanced in the development of ammonia as a viable marine fuel, and are actively working on other future carbon-free fuels as well. Our strong in-house competencies are very much being utilized to support our commitment to decarbonizing shipping.”

Eidesvik has a history of supporting sustainable innovations, having used LNG fuel in its fleet from as early as 2003, and fuel cells from 2006. The company believes that to achieve the industry’s decarbonization targets, not only newbuilds will need to have the appropriate technologies, but existing vessels must also be retrofitted accordingly. Furthermore, prolonging the life of existing assets requires less capital and is less energy-intensive than building new ones.

Wärtsilä and Eidesvik are also partners in the EU-funded ShipFC project to equip a platform supply vessel, the ‘Viking Energy’ with a 2 MW fuel cell running on green ammonia. The installation is scheduled to take place in late 2023.

This ammonia conversion project also ties in with one of the ongoing workstreams of the Wärtsilä-led Zero Emissions Energy Distribution at Sea (ZEEDS) project, aimed at developing ammonia-powered newbuilds and converting suitable existing vessels.

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