Blog post from Christer Wik, Wärtsilä: Future Fuels plans at Wärtsilä


At Wärtsilä we have a vision of a sustainable marine and energy future to ensure a future that is good for our industry, good for society! Mankind has put a big footmark on the earth globe and we need to ensure that biodiversity loss, water and air pollution, species extinction, global warming, and climate change are reduced to a minimum due to our activities during the Anthropocene epoch we are now living in. The way forward for us is to ensure a sustainable marine and energy market by developing internal combustion engines running on sustainable fuels like green hydrogen, ammonia, or methanol. The pressure has increased in the marine market to go for sustainable solutions with initiatives from IMO, EU, banks, and charter owners like Fit for 55, Poseidon principles, and the Sea Cargo Charter. Taking into consideration that 90% of the world trade is transported by sea and that a ship’s mean lifetime is 25 to 30 years we need to act now to fulfill the targets of a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050.

We have a lot of developments ongoing within this field at Wärtsilä and at the moment methane either in compressed (CNG) or liquified (LNG) form is the cleanest fossil fuel available giving 5 to 20% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction on a well to wake/power level vs. heavy fuel oils. Bio and synthetic fuels reduce GHG by 70 to 100% and are possible already today since infrastructure, rules, and regulations exist and supply infrastructure adaptation has started. Green Hydrogen would have zero carbon and give out no CO2 emissions. It could also be blended with CNG and LNG in ratios up to 15-25%-vol already today. Green ammonia would also be a fuel with zero carbon and no CO2 emissions. This could be blended with liquid fuels or gases but is considered toxic and safety concepts and regulations for its usage are being developed. Green methanol would be considered carbon neutral and can be blended with liquid fuels. Wärtsilä has already technology developed for methanol and one engine product released. Methanol is also considered a toxic fuel but safety regulations exist. Wärtsilä has laboratory engines operating on hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol and proof of concepts is ongoing with the target to get the Methanol concept industrialized on one product in 2023, an Ammonia concept ready in 2023, and a Hydrogen concept ready in 2025.

We can still ensure a sustainable future and methane, as well as hybrid solutions, are the choices at the moment until carbon-free fuels (synthetic, bio, and Green-H2 carriers) get available.

Christer Wik works as a General Manager (Test services) at Wärtsilä Finland. He is a member of the Clean Propulsion Technologies project’s Steering group and served as its chairman for the first half of the project.