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FVTR GmbH investigates ammonia as maritime fuel of the future

In the BMWi research project "AmmoniakMotor", FVTR GmbH, the Chair of Piston Machines and Combustion Engines (LKV) at the University of Rostock and the LOGE Deutschland GmbH are investigating the benefits of green ammonia as a CO2-free fuel of the future for inland navigation. The goal is to understand in-engine ammonia combustion and determine optimal engine operating strategies.

In the next two years, new mathematical models and simulation methods will be developed at FVTR GmbH to support engine development for the use of ammonia in the future. Since any technical development nowadays is largely done digitally on the computer, accurate models are indispensable. The work is supported by experimental investigations on a modern ammonia research engine at LKV.

Ammonia is currently being discussed as one of many future marine fuels and is considered a potential carbon-free hydrogen carrier. It is a gas that has a strong pungent odor, is corrosive and toxic. However, "Only nitrogen and water are produced during combustion, and even in the event of possible leakage, there are no CO2 emissions or negative effects on the ozone layer", says Professor Buchholz of LKV, a project partner of FVTR GmbH. But ammonia, known mainly from agriculture where it is used as a fertilizer, is harder to ignite, burning much slower than natural gas, he said.

"German inland shipping emits many millions of tons of climate-damaging carbon dioxide every year", said Dr. Martin Theile, coordinator for this research project at FVTR GmbH. "Compared to the automotive sector, this is equivalent to the emissions of about 1.7 million cars." Because little research has been done on the combustion of ammonia in engines and no one knows exactly how oxidation occurs and what comes out of the engine in the end, he said, research is now needed.  "We are taking care of the numerical simulation of engine combustion on the computer. Our partner LOGE develops mathematical models for the complex chemical processes during combustion, and we then marry these models to an overall model of the engine. We then have the opportunity to support our colleagues at LKV with the help of our simulations or to analyze completely different operating conditions that are difficult to implement on the test bench."

Ammoniak Forschungsmotor


Prof. Bert Buchholz (L), Dr.-Ing. Sascha Prehn (M) of the chair of Piston Machines and Combustion Engines at the University of Rostock and Dr.-Ing. Martin Theile (R) from the FVTR GmbH

FVTR GmbH is already dedicated to the topic of ammonia and hydrogen as future fuels in several projects and scientific consortia. With the help of this research project, FVTR GmbH can significantly expand its know-how in this field.

FVTR (Forschungszentrum für Verbrennungsmotoren und Thermodynamik Rostock) GmbH is an independent research and engineering service provider in the field of engine development and thermodynamic energy conversion processes. With our know-how, we help our customers to operate more efficient engines and plants, thus protecting the environment and natural resources. We have been in existence since 2007 and employ 28 people at our Rostock site, ranging from mechanics to PhD engineers.