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Ammonia-Fueled Engine Conversion Planned by 2023 for OSV

first conversion of engine to burn ammonia planned
Eidesvik's Viking Energy is due to be equiped with a fuel cell in a separate project (Eidesvik)

Published Oct 8, 2021 2:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

A first of its kind project is launching designed to convert an operational ship to operate on ammonia as its fuel source. The project seeks to build on the successful laboratory tests to demonstrate the first ship operating on ammonia by late 2023 and ultimately leading to 100 percent ammonia used as a marine fuel.

Norwegian ship owner Eidesvik Offshore and the technology group Wärtsilä signed the cooperation agreement aimed at converting one of the company’s offshore supply vessel (OSV) to operate with ammonia-fueled combustion. The project will develop a complete system with the required fuel supply and safety elements.

“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 CEO & President of Eidesvik, Jan Fredrik Meling.

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

“Collaborating with Eidesvik on this groundbreaking project is an exciting and important step towards carbon-free shipping. Naturally we are also working with classification societies on measures to ensure safe and environmentally sustainable use,” said Hans Petter Nesse, Managing Director of Wärtsilä Norway. “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.”

Eidesvik has previously undertaken projects to use LNG fuel in its fleet from as early as 2003, and fuel cells from 2006. Wärtsilä and Eidesvik are also currently partners in the EU-funded ShipFC project to equip a platform supply vessel, the Viking Energy, with a 2MW fuel cell running on green ammonia. The installation is scheduled to take place in late 2023.

The companies believe 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. Furthermore, the projects will prolong the life of existing assets requiring less capital and is less energy-intensive than building new ones.