MAN Energy Solutions announced the completion of the first running of a test engine on ammonia at its Research Centre Copenhagen (RCC).
The combustion was performed on a MAN B&W two-stroke 4T50ME-X type and resulted in particularly promising data for the pilot-oil amount and combustion stability, according to a press release.
Gunnar Stiesch, chief technical officer of MAN Energy Solutions, said: “This marks a major milestone on our road to developing a full-scale two-stroke ammonia marine engine. It’s been a historic week for our team at the RCC, where a lot of groundwork and research has now paid off and we have gained a deep understanding of ammonia’s unique characteristics as a marine fuel, as well as its effects on fuel supply and safety systems. This successful combustion represents yet another, important step towards decarbonizing the marine market and bringing big things to zero.”
MAN Energy Solutions said that safety has been crucial at all stages leading to the new milestone.
The company took precautions, including the construction of a custom-built cold hall to contain ammonia vapor in the event of a leak.
Brian Østergaard Sørensen, vice president and head of research and development, Two-Stroke, MAN Energy Solutions, said: “This is groundbreaking for both our company and the maritime industry as a whole. That said, we know we still have a lot of hard work ahead and, over the following months, will execute a testing program that will study aspects such as heat release, ignition, safety, pilot-oil energy fraction, NOx and N2O emissions. We then plan on rebuilding the test engine from one cylinder capable of running on ammonia to a full-scale test engine running on ammonia around the end of this year or early in 2024.”
The ammonia engine project began in 2019 with a pre-study and investigation of ammonia combustibility. The following year, a second test engine arrived in Copenhagen, enabling a parallel-test engine setup with different fuels. The ammonia fuel-supply system and auxiliary systems were specified in 2021, while 2022 saw the installation of the same systems at RCC with instrumentation for test engine No. 1 for 1-cylinder ammonia testing initiated.
In 2023, ammonia bunkering and service-tank facilities were constructed. All auxiliary systems were first tested with water, followed by ammonia.
Bjarne Foldager, head of Two-Stroke Business, MAN Energy Solutions, said: “Interest in this breakthrough has been overwhelming. However, while we provide the decarbonizing technology, the maritime industry must show the will to implement it. Now it’s up to the International Maritime Organization to establish clear regulations that ensure that maritime actors are not penalized for choosing carbon-neutral fuels. At MAN Energy Solutions, our expectations for ammonia are positive owing to its predicted lower production cost compared to other, relevant e-fuels; we foresee around 27 percent of the fuel used onboard large merchant-marine vessels to be ammonia by 2050.”
MAN Energy Solutions expects to hold its delivery timeline for the first ammonia engine, with subsequent operation onboard a commercial ship around 2026, the company said.