Wartsila Engines Running on Biofuels

In recent tests conducted at the VTT technical research centre in Espoo, Finland, a Wärtsilä Vasa 4R32 engine was operated on jatropha oil, fish oil and chicken oil, the company says.

The company performed the tests to demonstrate the ability of its engines to run on a range of vegetable and animal-based oils. Vesa Riihimäki, Vice President, Power Plant Technology commented: “Liquid biofuels represent an emerging market. We see that fuel supply infrastructures for crude vegetable oils are being developed at an increasing pace, suggesting that the availability of such fuels will be vastly extended during the next 5 to 10 years.” Riihimäki added: “In addition to commodity fuels, we see a significant potential in industry process side streams, such as, fish and chicken oils, which can used for generating renewable energy.”

Since 2003, Wärtsilä engine power plants have been in commercial operation using palm oil as the fuel source but the aim of the tests has been to assess the capability of engines to operate on renewable fuels that do not compete with agricultural uses.

The first engine test with straight jatropha oil was performed in January 2009, with the engine being operated on a batch of oil delivered from India. An additional test will be conducted later this summer on a further batch of jatropha oil imported from Tanzania.

In test using fish oil and chicken oil, the engine performed in much the same way as when running on vegetable-based oils. No further fish oil testing will be necessary for evaluation purposes at this stage, Wartsila says, concluding that most animal fats are similar to conventional diesel fuels in terms of energy content, and ignition and combustion properties. The main differences are the melting point, the level of impurities, and the degree of acidity.