Wärtsilä initiates major project to further develop low-speed gas engines

Wärtsilä has, in the autumn of 2010, initiated a major project to further develop its low-speed engine portfolio to include gas engines, alongside its medium-speed dual fuel engines, as part of the company’s strategy. A new test engine will be installed in the Trieste engine laboratory in Italy in March this year. Engine testing will commence shortly thereafter.
The principal aim of the initiative is to strengthen Wärtsilä’s leading position in gas engine technology, and to further improve its competitive edge in the global marine markets.
The marine market is today characterised by a growing awareness of the need for alternative fuel solutions that can reduce emissions while, at the same time, being commercially viable. Natural gas is currently the alternative fuel offering the biggest potential in this respect. LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) has also attracted some interest but is not a commercially viable alternative due to its prohibitive price.
In a shipping market with alternative bunkers available, dual-fuel engine installations offer the flexibility much sought after by operators. With dual-fuel engines, operators are free to switch between gas or diesel fuels, depending upon price and bunkering availability.
“We believe the time is now right to further develop our natural gas solutions for the Merchant fleet at large. Of course, we are aware of the challenges to be overcome as bunkering facilities are not yet in place for starters. A number of other practical challenges need to be addressed, but companies such as SeaCargo have led the way showing the market that it can be done. Others will no doubt follow,” says Lars Anderson, Vice President at Wärtsilä Ship Power Merchant.
“That is why we have started a comprehensive research programme, building upon our considerable past experience to develop solutions that meet the broader expectations of the Merchant fleet. ‘Fit for ship’ is the leading theme. This means reliability, in that our solutions must be ready for the seven seas, and commercial viability, both in terms of initial investment as well as operating cost. Naturally, the upcoming emissions limits are also part of the equation,” he adds.
Wärtsilä has years of experience and the leading position in dual-fuel engine technology. When equipping the LNG Carrier “Venator” with a low-speed dual-fuel 7RNMD90 engine in 1973, Wärtsilä (Sulzer) was way ahead of its time. The installation was successful in all aspects, but the market was not yet ready to endorse the concept. Still convinced of the potential that natural gas held, Wärtsilä developed and successfully tested a high-pressure two-stroke gas engine in 1986. Again, the technology was proven but Wärtsilä was once again ahead of its time, and the market was still not ready for it.
In the mid 1980s, Wärtsilä also developed its first medium-speed high pressure gas engines, the GD series, targeting land-based and marine markets. In the 90’s Wärtsilä added the SG and the DF series medium-speed gas engines. On this occasion, the timing was right. The superior technology and performance soon made Wärtsilä the unchallenged market leader for medium-speed dual-fuel applications. Of these the DF marine installations alone have accumulated over 1,000,000 running hours, with close to 60 vessels in service.
For further information, please contact:
Mr Lars Anderson
Vice President, Ship Power Merchant
Wärtsilä Corporation
Tel: +41 798 200904
Ms Tuula Franck
Senior Manager, Media and Stakeholder Relations
Wärtsilä Corporation
Tel: +358 400 267555
About Wärtsilä:
Wärtsilä is a global leader in complete lifecycle power solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising technological innovation and total efficiency, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers. In 2010, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 4.6 billion with more than 17,500 employees. The company has operations in 160 locations in 70 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki, Finland.  www.wartsila.com
By Professional Mariner Staff