Ammonia could be one of the alternative fuels that allow the shipping industry to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. File Image / Pixabay
It may be possible to use ammonia as a bunker fuel on existing ships, significantly cutting the cost of cutting the shipping industry's carbon footprint, according to engine manufacturer Wärtsilä.
Ammonia could be blended with LNG or diesel to improve its ignition properties and allow it to be used in the current fleet with small engine modifications, Kaj Portin, general manager for fuel and operational flexibility at Wärtsilä Marine, said in a note on the company's website Thursday.
Wärtsilä's scientists are currently carrying out tests of ammonia both on its own and in combination with other fuels, and in 2022 field tests are planned with shipowners, the company said.
"Ammonia can be produced and used with no carbon emissions whatsoever, and new tests from Wärtsilä show that it can be used in current engines," Vesa Koivumaa, business development director at Wärtsilä Marine, said in a LinkedIn post.
If this idea proves viable, it would radically cut the near-term cost of decarbonising shipping by removing the need to buy new ships before new low-carbon fuel options can be taken on.
Easing the marine fuel supply chain into one dominated by ammonia steadily by gradually introducing blends with ammonia included at first would be a much easier transition for the bunker and shipping industries than a sudden shift into a new fuel category.