A collaborative approach to introducing alternative fuels
As shipping aims to reduce its emissions impact with alternative fuels, the industry needs careful and coordinated collaboration to introduce new fuels safely and with minimal impact to ship operations. While developing engines is undoubtedly the focus for engine designer WinGD, the Swiss marine power company is also working closely with expert partners to develop the operational framework that will allow ship owners and operators to adopt these fuels successfully.
Not only is the company on track to deliver engines capable of operating with ammonia and methanol by early 2025, but is also collaborating to provide the systems integration, vessel designs, training, and auxiliary systems input necessary for safe and reliable operations. Joint development projects are well underway, while trail-blazing shipowners have already booked engine orders with WinGD.
Notable among these orders is the contract to supply ammonia-fuelled engines for eight 210,000 DWT bulk carriers being built for Belgian owner Bocimar. These engines will be installed and operational in 2025 and 2026. The bulkers will be the first of their kind and will clearly demonstrate the feasibility for large ocean vessels to successfully operate with ammonia fuel. WinGD’s ammonia-fuelled X‑DF‑A engines have also been ordered for a series of two 46,000m3 LPG/ammonia carriers to be built for Exmar LPG, a joint venture of Exmar and Seapeak, at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard.
Another groundbreaking order is for WinGD’s 10X92DF-M methanol-fuelled engines to power four 16,000 TEU container vessels to be built for COSCO SHIPPING Lines at COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry (Yangzhou) Co. Ltd. These vessels will be delivered from 2025 and will feature WinGD’s first X92DF-M engines in China.
The orders have been enabled by a rigorous development approach supported by crucial joint development that reaches far beyond the conventional remit of engine design. For example, WinGD worked closely with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding on the auxiliary systems that will support use of X-DF-A engines, and with Samsung Heavy Industries WinGD to integrate X-DF-A engines into several vessel designs.
Under another collaboration agreement with tanker owner AET and maritime academy Akademi Laut Malaysia (ALAM), WinGD will develop not only the technology but also the training syllabus for crew using ammonia engines. And a partnership with KSS Line exploring the use of X‑DF‑A engines in future newbuilds will include use of WinGD’s remote diagnostics and troubleshooting platform, WiDE, to support crew and analyse early operational learnings.
This partnership-driven approach has delivered rapid advances while ensuring the safety of using new technology, and developing the way in which it can be deployed. As a result, in September WinGD secured the first ever approval in principle (AiP) for two-stroke engines fuelled with ammonia, giving shipowners the assurances they need to realise vessel designs using ammonia-fuelled main engines for the first time.
As CEO Dominik Schneiter explains: “The value of collaboration cannot be underestimated. It allows technological innovation to be accelerated as we work towards a seamless transition to net-zero carbon fuels.”
The trend has most definitely been set. The first X-DF-A version is scheduled for commercial introduction in Q1 2025, with the X-DF-M model being available in Q2 of that same year. Given the modularity of modern engines, ship owners can already today plan for the use of new fuels with both new and existing assets, as and when the fuels become available.
“The IMO has set clear targets for the decarbonisation of shipping operations to be well underway by 2030. This has established a real incentive for owners, fuel suppliers, and technology providers to prepare for a new generation of marine fuels. At WinGD, we are working hard to bring these aims to realisation,” says Schneiter.