New technology hub in Vaasa will develop sustainable fuels

article picture: New technology hub in Vaasa will develop sustainable fuels

Wärtsilä Corporation has opened its new technology centre in Vaasa, on the west coast of Finland. Named the Sustainable Technology Hub (STH), the new centre will concentrate its efforts to advance the global decarbonisation in the fields of marine and energy technologies.

Known as a world leader in innovative technologies for marine and energy solutions, Wärtsilä Corporation aims at researching and producing innovations in sustainable technology and services. Current emphasis is on the development of green technologies, particularly with regard to sustainable fuels and digital technologies.

The new STH technology centre – a world-leading centre for research, innovation, engineering and manufacturing – marks the start of a new era for Wärtsilä. The construction of the new centre was announced in 2018, with a total investment of around 250 M€.


The hub was officially inaugurated in the summer of 2022.

”All of Wärtsilä’s facilities in Vaasa are now concentrated on one site close to the Port of Vaasa in Vaskiluoto, right next to the power plant,” notes Mr. Juha Kytölä, Wärtsilä Corporation’s Director for R&D and Engineering.

”The STH hub consists of two parts. The office building has been in preliminary use since October 2021. This summer, the large-sized production and R&D facility was also opened.”

The hub comes complete with a modern fuel laboratory, multi-purpose engine-testing facilities, and largely automised production lines. The building has advanced energy recovery systems that enable self-sufficiency for heating.


According to Mr. Kytölä, the new technology centre equals the former Wärtsilä facilities in Vaasa in size. However, by concentrating the operations onto a single site, the new facility is more practical from the logistical standpoint, while also speeding up everyday work and providing operational efficiency.

The centre will employ 1,500 people under one roof.


”In particular, the new STH hub will research and produce new kinds of engines and engine technologies. Approximately 50 percent of Wärtsilä’s engines will be utilised in power plants and another 50 percent onboard ships.”

”True to its name, the Sustainable Technology Hub will bring the focus of Wärtsilä’s operations to the domain of even more sustainable marine and power technologies,” Mr. Kytölä accentuates.

In recent times, Wärtsilä has already launched three new engine types. Two of them have become available in the course of 2022.

”These engines are able to utilise different types of fuels. Even in the future, we will strive to produce low-carbon or zeroemission engine products.”

”Engines as such are not problematic for the environment, whereas fossil engine fuels can be. The STH hub will specifically focus its R&D work on zero-carbon fuel types,” Mr. Kytölä points out.


Such new types of sustainable engine fuels will definitely be needed in the maritime industries.

”The way we see things is that while biogas and hydrogen fuels may soon be utilised in engines on a larger scale, the ship engines will require methanol and ethanol fuels. Already, there is a global demand for these kinds of alcohol-based engine fuels,” Mr. Kytölä expects.

”Already, Wärtsilä has launched the W32 engine that operates on methanol fuel. These types of engines have already been sold to customers.”

Furthermore, ammonium fuels will soon see use in marine engines.

”Since ammonium is totally carbonfree, ammonium fuels will not cause any CO2 emissions. We are the global leader in the production of these kinds of fuels,” affirms Kytölä.

Within the year 2023, an ammonia concept from Wärtsilä will be ready, while a hydrogen concept is expected to be available in 2025.



For Wärtsilä Corporation, battery technology is also an important area of research. Wärtsilä is a supplier of battery-based energy storage systems.

”We purchase battery cells from various manufacturers and provide them with e.g. intelligent control systems and other innovations, so that the complete package will meet the customer’s needs.”

”We are producing, among other things, hybrid solutions for powering maritime vessels. Of course, batteries also have their uses in land-based power stations,” Mr. Kytölä mentions.

The largest batteries can have the storage capacity of 500 MWh. In the case of battery business, Wärtsilä is particularly active in the United States.

”However, we will test our new maritime batteries at the new STH hub in Vaasa. What’s more, the Wasaline ferry ’Aurora Botnia’ operating between Vaasa and Umeå – one of the world’s most energy efficient and environmentally sustainable passenger ferries – is being utilised as a floating testbed for Wärtsilä’s future innovations, in cooperation with the shipowners. The ship is equipped with Wärtsilä’s most technologically advanced solutions and services,” assures Kytölä.

”With the aid of new intelligent control and navigation systems, it will be possible to select shipping routes more accurately to take weather conditions into account, so that the ship may save fuel and sailing time. At the same time, environmental emissions at sea can be minimised.”


Innovation and the development of service solutions will be an important part of the STH hub’s output. A new, modern Wärtsilä Land & Sea Academy training centre, Customer Expertise Centres for remote operational support, predictive maintenance solutions, and the development of new digital innovations will have a central role in supporting customers to optimise their operations and to accelerate decarbonisation.

In Mr. Kytölä’s assessment, approximately one ship in three sailing the seas right now have been equipped with Wärtsilä technology.



The centre acts also as a global ecosystem of collaboration by inviting customers, partner companies and academia to incubate, test and validate ideas.

”The idea is to go onwards together in the fields of research and projects. The STH hub also has a Partner Campus in which universities or other cooperative partners can test possible new technology innovations for the future,” says Kytölä.

”The University of Vaasa is one of our main partners, having a campus near here.”

Furthermore, Vaasa Electricity Co. often works in cooperation with Wärtsilä STH hub. New energy technologies and fuels can sometimes be tested at the Vaskiluoto power station situated next to the STH site.

”One of our research ideas is that electricity might be used to produce hydrogen for storage. Afterwards, at a time when electricity has become higher-priced, the stored hydrogen could be utilised for producing electricity,” Mr. Kytölä gives an example of synergy benefits.

by: Ari Mononen
photos: Wärtsilä Oyj

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