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Wärtsilä advances future fuel capabilities with first ammonia tests

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Wärtsilä advances future fuel capabilities with first ammonia tests. Image: Wartsila
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The technology group Wärtsilä has initiated combustion trials using ammonia. The research will help the company to prepare for the use of ammonia as a fuel that can contribute to reducing both the shipping’s and energy sectors’ greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the tests, ammonia was injected into a combustion research unit to better understand its properties. Based on initial results, the tests will be continued on both dual-fuel and spark-ignited gas engines. These will be followed by field tests in collaboration with ship owners from 2022, and potentially also with energy customers in the future.

“The first tests have yielded promising results and we will continue to optimise combustion parameters,” said Kaj Portin, General Manager, Fuel & Operational Flexibility, Wärtsilä Marine. “This is an important step in making sure that Wärtsilä can provide the engine and fuel systems that ship owners need, whichever fuel they choose in the future.”

Ammonia is a promising, carbon-free fuel as shipping explores how to fulfil the International Maritime Organization’s vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050, while the energy sector is developing optimal paths for 100% renewable energy systems already today. Although ammonia is derived mainly from fossil sources today, in the future ammonia’s greenhouse gas footprint can be nearly eliminated if it is produced using electricity from renewable sources.

The tests are just the latest step as Wärtsilä aims to develop a complete ammonia fuel solution comprising engines, fuel supply and storage. The company is working with ship owners, shipbuilders, classification societies and fuel suppliers to learn more about system and safety requirements, as well as fuel composition, emissions and efficiency.

Wärtsilä is developing ammonia storage and supply systems as part of the EU project ShipFC to install ammonia fuel cells on Eidesvik Offshore’s supply vessel Viking Energy by 2023. The company has also gained significant experience with ammonia from designing cargo handling systems for liquid petroleum gas carriers, many of which are used to transport ammonia.

Ammonia has a number of properties that require further investigation. It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process. A regulatory framework and class rules will need to be developed for its use as a marine fuel.

Wärtsilä is investigating several future fuels, including synthetic methane, ammonia, hydrogen and methanol, with a view to providing complete flexibility across engines and the fuel chain. Internal combustion engines can be adapted to burn any fuel. Dual-fuel or spark-ignited engines are already capable of burning liquified natural gas – from fossil, biomass or synthetic sources – while diesel engines can run on liquid biofuels, biodiesel or e-diesel.

Wärtsilä has extensive experience in converting engines to other fuels, including diesel to dual-fuel, as well as engines capable of burning methanol and volatile organic compounds from crude oil cargoes. The modularity of modern engines means that conversions can be made with a very limited exchange of components. Wärtsilä’s investment in modular engines and in storage and supply systems will enable shipping’s transition from current fossil fuels to bio- and synthetic fuels.

Environment

Stena Bulk performs a test running an MR tanker on 100% biofuel

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During the coming weeks Stena Bulk will perform a test running an MR tanker on 100% biofuel. The fuel is the MR1-100 bio-fuel oil, produced from used cooking oil and supplied by GoodFuels in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It has been bunkered onto the Stena Immortal and will be used to power the main engine in normal operations to test and prove the technical and operational feasibility.

“By doing this test we want to contribute to push the industry and pave way towards more sustainable shipping”, says Erik Hånell, President and CEO Stena Bulk. “We want to be able to offer our customers additional options with less environmental impact in the future and by conducting the trial in normal operations we want to show that being sustainable doesn´t have to interfere with core business”, he continues.

Biofuels are compatible with regular fuels but produced from biomass or biowaste instead of fossil oil. While there are many kinds of biofuel Stena Bulk is only using 2nd generation fuel, meaning they are based on waste and thereby do not compete with food production. In this case the fuel is made from used cooking oil.

The reduction of CO2 by using this particular biofuel is around 83%. In this trial we will reduce the emissions with 690 mt. These figures are from a life cycle perspective, i.e. including production and distribution of the fuel. Apart from contributing to a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions the fuel also emits significantly lower levels of SOX than regular compliant fuels.

 

 

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Environment

Port of Long Beach marine terminals open and operating

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Port of Long Beach marine terminals open and operating. Image: Pixabay
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Port of Long Beach marine terminals are open and operating amid the unfolding health crisis, with regular vessel calls and scheduled work shifts continuing at the nation’s second-busiest seaport.

The Port’s marine terminals are receiving vessel calls and workers are transferring cargo off and on ships under the health-protective directives established by the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection, with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the Port’s primary focus is to protect the well-being of the Port and industry workforce, all stakeholders are working diligently to ensure that cargo operations continue, maintaining a vital link in the supply chain to ensure everyday goods continue to be available to Americans.

To slow community spread of COVID-19, the Port Administration Building, Joint Security Command and Control Center and Maintenance Facility are closed to the public through March 31, 2020, or until further notice.

However, normal administrative functions are continuing – all communications and meetings with Port of Long Beach staff will take place online or via phone. Port staff members are at work and will continue to facilitate cargo operations.

The Port is also working very closely with the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, supporting communications and planning efforts.

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Covid 19 – Measures taken by Port of Zeebrugge

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Covid 19 - Measures taken by Port of Zeebrugge. Image: Port of Zeebrugge
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To limit the spread of the COVID 19 virus, the port authority of Zeebrugge has taken the following measures.

At this point, all critical functions and core processes are guaranteed. The continuous shifts in the Port of Zeebrugge are secured. The shipping movements and operations are functioning on maximum capacity, as long as the situation allows. Administrative personnel is asked to be flexible in fulfilling their duties.

Within the port authority we have taken the following measures:

  • We continuously follow the advisements of the World Health Organization, the Federal Department of Health, the EU and the Federal Department of Mobility.

  • The port’s events and organised visits are postponed or cancelled. Business trips abroad are cancelled until further notice.

  • Physical meetings are discouraged and replaced by conference calls as much as possible.

  • All departments of the port authority are encouraged to work from home if possible. The attendance on all departments is however guaranteed. If working from home is impossible, the porth authority personnel is spread throughout the company’s offices both in time and space.

  • The guidelines concerning hygiene within the port authority are intensfied and communicated clearly.

  • The maintenance personnel and cleaning staff are instructed to give extra attention to door handles, restrooms and 24 hour working stations.

  • The work schedules of the continuous services are adjusted in order to reduce the risk of infections. The aforementioned guidelines concerning hygiene are obviously applied, with extra attention for the disinfection of work stations before and after a change in shifts.

A Maritime Declaration of Health from all ships entering the Port of Zeebrugge is mandatory, as always. The Federal Public Department of Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment ‘Saniport’ screens these documents and will take further action if necessary.

The National Safety Council has reported that cruise ships are allowed to call on the Port of Zeebrugge, but passengers and crew members are not allowed to leave the ship.

The impact of these preventative measures on our departments will be monitored daily and all partners will be informed continuously.

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