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.

Download the paper now »


   

  

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

Until now, methanol has not been widely used as a marine fuel. This easily and cheaply produced industrial alcohol is today made predominantly from natural gas, but the use of hydrogen from renewable electricity and recaptured carbon to make green methanol would make it carbon neutral. And with better combustion and easier storage and handling than ammonia, methanol is a key component of decarbonisation in the maritime industry.

Only a few marine engine builders have experience with methanol engines. A project to convert a Wärtsilä Z40 engine on the ro-pax vessel Stena Germanica to burn methanol began in 2015. The engine now runs mainly on methanol, and the success of the installation has inspired Wärtsilä to investigate this fuel further.

copyright stenaline
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.

future-fuels-2

 

   


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

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Fuels for the future: the steps towards zero emission shipping (EUAF session)

Biofuels and hydrogen-based fuels are needed to decarbonise the shipping industry. But where to start?...
  • Decarbonisation & future fuels
Webinar
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Fuels for the future: the steps towards zero emission shipping (MEA session)

Biofuels and hydrogen-based fuels are needed to decarbonise the shipping industry. But where to start?...
  • Decarbonisation & future fuels
Webinar
Decarbonizing Shipping
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Decarbonising Shipping – is it only about the alternative fuels?

Decarbonising Shipping – A detailed look at carbon intensity measures and other available options for lowering GHG emissions and complying with...
  • Decarbonisation & future fuels
  • Hybrid systems
  • Marine power systems
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Biogas:Fuelling the future
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Biogas: Fuelling the future

Emission reduction, cleaner fuels and regulatory compliance. These are everyday challenges logistical companies face on a daily base. In the road,...
  • Sustainability
  • Gas solutions
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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, regulatory and infrastructure part of LNG to establish the...
  • Technology
  • Decarbonisation & future fuels
  • Sustainability
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The potential of bioLNG for the maritime industry

One of the pathways for the maritime industry, to comply with IMO 2050 is the transition of LNG to bioLNG to synthetic LNG as fuel....
  • Sustainability
  • Gas solutions

 

   


Articles

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LPG – Taking fuel flexibility to the next level
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LPG – Taking fuel flexibility to the next level

While the first Wärtsilä LPG power plant has been in operation for some time now, a solution...
  • Technology
  • Sustainability
  • Energy transition
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LNG as fuel solution
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‘LNG as fuel’ solution

As one of the leaders in the fast-growing market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) solutions, Wärtsilä is constantly seeking to...
  • Marine power systems
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Natural gas takes the role as backup fuel
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Natural gas takes the role as backup fuel

The market for energy production, using gas, is ever growing. More customers want to go for a pure gas...
  • Decarbonisation & future fuels
  • Gas solutions
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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,...
  • Voyage
  • Autonomous shipping
  • Smart simulation
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Hydrogen - The future of zero-carbon fuels?
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Hydrogen - The future of zero-carbon fuels?

Hydrogen has long been considered one of the keys to global decarbonisation, but so far it has been...
  • Sustainability
  • Energy transition
  • Decarbonisation & future fuels
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LNG a future fuel for the maritime industry
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LNG - A future fuel for the maritime industry?

Stricter environmental regulations are changing the way the maritime industry views conventional...
  • Sustainability

 

   


Press releases

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