Wärtsilä joins EU-funded project to decarbonise shipping

Wärtsilä joins EU-funded project to decarbonise shipping
The two concept vessels to be designed as part of the CHEK project will feature a Wärtsilä engine running on hydrogen fuel and Wärtsilä system integration solutions. Image courtesy of Wärtsilä Corporation.

Wärtsilä has joined an EU-funded project, led by the University of Vaasa in Finland, that is looking at ways to reduce the environmental impact of shipping.

Project CHEK – deCarbonising sHipping by Enabling Key technology symbiosis on real vessel concept designs, has been granted funding of EUR 10 million by the EU as part of its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

In addition to the University of Vaasa and Wärtsilä, the other project partners are BAR Technologies, Cargill Ocean Transportation, Climeon, Deltamarin, Hasytec Electronics, Lloyds Register, MSC Cruises, Silverstream Technologies and World Maritime University.

The goal of the CHEK project is to reduce emissions from shipping through the integrated use of low-carbon energy forms and technologies. These include the use of hydrogen fuel, wind power, electric batteries, heat recovery, air lubrication, and new anti-fouling technology. Development work on the way by which vessels are designed and operated is also included.

The project will design two concept vessels; a bulk carrier, which will utilise sails to capture wind energy, and a cruise ship that will operate with a Wärtsilä designed engine running on hydrogen fuel. It is estimated that by combining new and innovative technologies, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 99 percent, energy savings of up to 50 percent can be achieved, while black carbon emissions can be cut by more than 95 percent. Several key enabling technologies will be demonstrated in practice on actual operational ships.

“CHEK represents another significant step in Wärtsilä’s commitment and efforts to decarbonise marine operations. There is no silver bullet to meeting the challenge of combating climate change, you need to exploit a number of parallel paths, and that’s exactly what we are doing together with our partners here. What makes the project so exciting is that we are stretching what can be done,” said Jonas Åkerman, director of research and technology development at Wärtsilä.

The project dovetails with Wärtsilä’s extensive investments in developing an ecosystem of co-creation. The company’s Smart Technology Hub in Vaasa is a new state-of-the-art innovation centre driving research, development, and production aimed at creating solutions for a more sustainable world. This initiative is complemented with Wärtsilä’s Smart Partner Campus platform, where stakeholders are invited to participate in the co-creation of win-win solutions.

In addition to developing and testing the hydrogen engine, Wärtsilä’s contributions to the project will include the following;

System integration for both vessels, including hybridisation, energy storage and shore power connections; Developing a modular fuel-flexible powertrain for reduced fuel consumption and optimum efficiency; Implementing the novel gate rudder system for enhanced manoeuvrability and better efficiency; and Route optimisation for the wind assisted bulker to take advantage of prevailing and forecasted wind conditions.

Wärtsilä is already well advanced in researching potential future ‘clean’ fuels capable of making a real contribution to decarbonising shipping operations. Drawing on its unparalleled experience in developing marine engine technology and supply systems for a broad range of fuels, including LNG, LPG and volatile organic compounds, Wärtsilä continues to invest in research into fuels such as bio and synthetic LNG, ammonia, methanol, bio-diesel, as well as hydrogen.

The CHEK project is scheduled to kick off in spring 2021. With the new vessel design method, the results of the two test vessels can also be applied to other vessel types, such as tankers, container ships, general cargo vessels, and ferries. The project will also undertake the preparation of future scenarios, and an analysis of factors affecting the development potential for low-carbon shipping, such as the current infrastructure.