Equinor to run ship fitted with ammonia fuel cells

Ammonia is a leading alternative in renewable fuel. It does not emit carbon dioxide and is created through the process of converting atmospheric nitrogen (N2) to ammonia (NH3) by a reaction with hydrogen (H2). This is a pinnacle movement for the future of the shipping industry, and the first ship to be fitted with the ammonia fuel cell is Viking Energy.

The ShipFC consortium project is looking to install the worlds first ammonia powered cell on a vessel, awarded with €10 million (£8.5 million) to fund the major project from the European Union.

Norwegian energy major Equinor
Norwegian energy major Equinor

Offshore vessel, Viking Energy, will be fitted with a large 2-megawatts ammonia fuel cell allowing it to sail solely on clean fuel for up to 3,000 hours annually. The project will successfully demonstrate that a long-range zero-emissions voyage with high power on large ships is achievable.

A significant element of the project is to scale up a 100-kilowatt fuel cell to two megawatts. The fuel cell is tested on land in a parallel project by Prototech, and executed at the Sustainable Energy Norwegian Catapult Centre.

The project is the manifestation from the long running alliance between Equinor, Eidesvik and Wärtsilä. The three companies successfully collaborated on a large variety of environmental and cleantech projects over the years.

Cecilie Rønning, senior vice president for joint operations support at Equinor, commented, “We see projects such as the ShipFC conversion to use ammonia on a high-powered marine fuel cell as an important step in finding the right sustainable and clean solutions in the future. Our ongoing collaboration with Eidesvik is testament to a long- standing belief that we can achieve our goals by working constructively towards that vision”.

This will be the first time an ammonia-powered fuel cell will be installed on a vessel, and is to be completed by 2023. The ambition is to ensure that a large ammonia fuel cell can supply power to shipboards safely and effectively.