A maritime innovation project looking to install the world’s first ammonia-powered fuel cell on a vessel has been awarded €10 million funding from the European Union.

The ShipFC project is being run by a consortium of 14 European companies and institutions, co-ordinated by the Norwegian cluster organisation NCE Maritime CleanTech, and has been awarded backing from the EU’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 under its Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).

The project will see an offshore vessel, Viking Energy, which is owned and operated by Eidesvik and on contract to energy major Equinor, have a large 2MW ammonia fuel cell retrofitted, allowing it to sail solely on the clean fuel for up to 3,000 hours annually. As such the project will demonstrate that long-range zero-emission voyages with high power on larger ships is possible.

The goal is also to ensure that a large fuel cell can deliver total electric power to shipboards systems safely and effectively. This is the first time an ammonia-powered fuel-cell will be installed on a vessel.

A significant part of the project will be the scale up of a 100-kilowatt fuel cell to 2 megawatts. The fuel cell is tested on land in a parallel project and development and construction will be undertaken by Prototech. Testing will be executed at the Sustainable Energy Norwegian Catapult Centre. The ship-side ammonia system will be supplied by Wärtsilä.

The ammonia fuel cell system will be installed in Viking Energy in late 2023.