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Future fuels development

Future fuels development

To power shipping in the future, Wärtsilä is investigating a wide range of fuels, including bio and synthetic liquefied natural gas (LNG) and natural gas along with ammonia, methanol, hydrogen and biofuels. Wärtsilä’s research draws on deep experience gained through decades of building engines as well as supply and storage systems for a wide range of fuels. Wärtsilä is leading the way in developing a wide range of engine and fuel gas supply systems to help ship owners navigate the route to reduced GHG emissions – whatever fuels they choose.

We have today the technology needed to use most future fuels.
Development is on-going for the rest.

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Our journey to date: decarbonising shipping


   
Download Our journey to date-decarbonising shipping

Before we begin discussing future fuels, an important distinction should be made between so-called ‘carbon-neutral’ and ‘zero-emission’ fuels.

  • Carbon-neutral fuels are those that have no net carbon emissions, meaning their production and use does not increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Examples include synthetic fuels made with renewable energy and certain biofuels.
  • Zero-carbon fuels release no CO2 when used as they do not contain any carbon. While hydrogen is an example of a zero-carbon fuel, it may or may not be carbon neutral depending on how it was produced.

To power shipping in the future, Wärtsilä is investigating a wide range of fuels.

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Ammonia

The exploration of ammonia as a fuel is progressing fast. It has several advantages over hydrogen, for example its greater energy density and the fact that it does not need to be stored under compression or at very low temperatures. But ammonia is toxic and highly corrosive, making it challenging to handle, especially for passenger vessels. Furthermore, the current ammonia supply is fossil based so in future it would have to be made in an environmentally sustainable way as it the case with synthetic ammonia.

Wärtsilä is not starting from scratch in this area. We have several years’ experience of designing cargo-handling systems capable of handling ammonia for use on LPG carriers. On the fuel storage and supply side, we are participating in the EU project ShipFC to develop systems that will supply ammonia to fuel cells that will be installed on Eidesvik Offshore’s supply vessel Viking Energy by 2023. We have performed combustion tests with ammonia in our fuel laboratory, and the next step is full-scale engine tests.

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Methanol

Methanol is a prime candidate for carbon-neutral deep-sea shipping. This easily and cheaply produced industrial alcohol can be made ‘green’ using hydrogen from renewable electricity and recaptured carbon. And with better combustion, easier storage and simpler handling than ammonia, it will likely be a key component of decarbonisation in the maritime industry.

Wärtsilä has long experience with methanol fuel, converting the Wärtsilä Z40 engines on the ro-pax Stena Germanica from 2015. Its latest, state-of-the-art methanol-fuelled engine, built on the well-proven Wärtsilä 32 platform, will power a Windfarm Installation Vessel operated by Van Oord from 2023.

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The Stena Germanica has been successfully operating with a Wärtsilä engine burning methanol fuel for five years. Copyright: Stena

Biodiesel

Fuels derived from biomass have great potential as a carbon-neutral energy source. They can be made in a variety of forms that can be used in both diesel and gas engines, either as a drop-in fuel or as a standalone fuel. As biofuels are compatible with existing engine, fuel supply and storage technologies they could offer simple and capital efficient decarbonisation of shipping.

Wärtsilä has been continuously experimenting with many different biofuels since the 1990s, and over the past ten years has been developing advanced combustion techniques to further improve efficiency and fuel flexibility. More recently, Wärtsilä worked with Boskalis and biofuels company Goodfuels todevelop and test biofuels suitable for use in shipping. We already have several products in our portfolio that can use biodiesel, for example our W20, W31, W32 and W46 diesel and dual-fuel engines.

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Hydrogen

Wärtsilä already has a strong understanding of hydrogen, and our dual-fuel engines and spark-ignited gas engines can already run on a fuel mix comprising between 15 and 25% hydrogen, further highlighting the flexibility of dual-fuel engines. We first experimented with using hydrogen in our gas engines in 2015 and are continuing development towards a pure hydrogen engine. But fuel storage and supply remain a challenge for hydrogen due to its low volumetric energy density and its explosive and corrosive nature. Synthetic hydrogen will take around a decade to be globally and reliably available; green hydrogen is produced using only renewable energy sources.

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Webinars

22 MAR 2022 Webinar
Wärtsilä 32 methanol – The power to reach carbon-neutral​
22 JUN 2021 Webinar
Fueling the future: Delivering fuel efficiency and cutting greenhouse gas emissions through methane slip reduction
Greenhouse gas reduction and fuel...
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28 MAY 2020 Webinar
Fuels for the future: the steps towards zero emission shipping (EUAF session)
Biofuels and hydrogen-based fuels are needed to decarbonise the...
Decarbonizing Shipping
3 NOV 2020 Webinar
Decarbonising Shipping – is it only about the alternative fuels?
Decarbonising Shipping – A detailed look at carbon intensity measures and other...
Biogas:Fuelling the future
18 JUN 2020 Webinar
Biogas: Fuelling the future
Emission reduction, cleaner fuels and regulatory compliance. These are everyday challenges logistical companies face on...
Path to IMO 2050 banner
6 AUG 2020 Webinar
Path to IMO 2050 and the role of LNG as a marine fuel
LNG as the transition fuel to the decarbonized shipping and should include the safety,...

Articles

19 OCT 2021 Article
5 min read
Methanol – Fuel for thought in our deep-dive Q&A
Four Wärtsilä experts discuss the advantages of methanol as a future fuel for shipping, as well as...
28 SEP 2021 Article
5 min read
Shaking up shipping with the MS Green Ammonia
As part of the ZEEDS initiative, Wärtsilä is helping develop a pioneering new tanker vessel that will...
28 JUN 2021 Article
3 min read
Ammonia – fuel for thought in our deep-dive Q&A
Four Wärtsilä experts discuss the advantages of ammonia as a future fuel for shipping, as well as...
Next port of call – the methanol bunkering station
6 MAY 2021 Article
3 min read
Next port of call – the methanol bunkering station?
Clean burning, cheap to produce, widely available and with the potential to be 100% renewable –...
16 APR 2021 Article
4 min read
Time to take another look at LNG conversion?
Modern efficiency-boosting technologies can help vessel owners and operators put a big dent in their...
2 JUL 2020 Article
4 min read
Successful tests pave the way for ammonia as a future marine fuel
Wärtsilä's recent experiments with the fuel, which releases no CO2 when it burns,...

Press releases

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