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Methanol Could Be Maritime Fuel of the Future

Available indications has suggested that the maritime transport sector could very well be relying on methanol to power ferries and vessels, this is as the Stena Germanica, the world’s first methanol powered ferry, re-entered service on March 26 after a couple of months’ intermission.


To mark the occasion two inauguration ceremonies were held, one on Friday the 27th in Kiel and the second one the next day in Gothenburg.


“We are very enthusiastic about methanol’s possibilities and it has the potential to be the maritime fuel of the future. We want to pursue change and development in the shipping sector and, with the Stena Germanica, our environmental impact will be completely different to what the industry has seen before,” Carl-Johan Hagman says.


The conversion of the Stena Germanica was carried out in Gdansk, Poland, at the Remontova shipyard and it started up at the end of January and continued until the end of March. The project has received support from the EU’sMotorways of the Seas and has had a total cost 22 million euros.


Methanol is a biodegradable, environmentally friendly and cost efficient fuel that reduces the emissions of sulphur and particles by 99 percent. The ferry’s fuel system and engines have been adapted in the shipyard in a collaboration between Stena Line and Wärtsilä. The technology is called dual fuel – methanol is the main fuel, but there is the option to use MGO, Marine Gas Oil, as backup.


“Stena Line is steering a sustainable and particularly environmentally friendly course. We are proud that the route between Kiel and Gothenburg was chosen and that we are part of this outstanding pilot project,” says Dr. Dirk Claus, managing director of Seehafen Kiel GmbH & Co KG.

In a related development, MAN Diesel & Turbo demonstrated a two-stroke methanol engine( ME-LGI concept) at its Research Centre in Copenhagen in front of existing ME-LGI customers and partners, including Westfal-Larsen, Marinvest, Waterfront Shipping/Methanex, Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding (MES), HHI-EMD, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), and Minaminippon.


For the purposes of the event, the company rebuilt its 50MX test engine to an ME-LGI unit.Søren Jensen, vp and head of R&D, said: ‘Attendees showed great interest in the demonstration and the accompanying technical presentations; their feedback has been very positive.”’


He further explained: “A number of years ago we identified the need to develop an engine that could run on more environmentally-friendly, competitively-priced fuels as an alternative to MDO/MGO. We believe the ability of the ME-LGI engine to run on sulphur-free fuels offers great potential. Methanol carriers have already operated at sea for many years. With a viable, convenient and economic fuel already on-board, exploiting a fraction of the cargo to power a vessel makes sense.”


To date, MAN Diesel & Turbo has received orders for seven ME-LGI engines – a mixture of 7S50ME-LGI and 6G50ME-LGI variants – from MOL, Marinvest and Westfal-Larsen. The first engine will be produced by MES for a vessel currently under construction by Minaminippon Shipbuilding Co for MOL.


MAN Diesel & Turbo has previously stated that it is already working towards a Tier-III-compatible ME-LGI version that can meet IMO NOx limits with the aid of secondary measures. Methanol as a ship fuel is interesting for ship operators because it does not contain sulphur and is liquid in ambient air conditions, which makes it easy to store aboard ships. For ships operating in IMO Emission Control Areas (ECAs), methanol is a solution to the demands of sulphur-emission legislation.A further advantage of methanol is its ability to be stored in normal, unpressurised tanks, making it straightforward to transport. As delivery by train, truck and/or ship is already in place in many areas globally, establishing and expanding the existing methanol infrastructure is perfectly feasible, even for individual ships operating in remote areas.

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