The IMO’s decision to invite the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop a standard for methyl/ethyl alcohol as a marine fuel reflects a growing interest in methanol as a marine fuel.
The decision, which has received praised from the Methanol Institute, also includes an option for the ISO to develop a standard for methyl/ethyl alcohol fuel couplings.
MI Chief Operating Officer Chris Chatterton said: “The global chemicals industry currently relies on the IMPCA specification for producers and consumers but a dedicated ISO standard will help shipowners understand the fuel in a marine fuel context. We are seeing increasing interest around Methanol as a liquid fuel that is safe to handle easy to ship and store and is more widely available than other low sulphur alternatives.”
ISO will work to develop standards and provide them as soon as possible to increase the uptake of methanol as an alternative fuel for ships. it is the first time ISO has considered these fuel types.
IBIA’s IMO Representative Unni Einemo added: “A comment was made during MSC 99 that fuel standards should be developed before ships begin using such low-flashpoint fuels so that safety concerns are adequately addressed before, not after, larger numbers of ships start using them. However, ISO has traditionally developed fuel standards only after user experience to be able to assess which parameters need to be specified, and also what relevant limits should be.”
At the current time, there are eight ships trading internationally operating with methanol. This includes the ropax Stena Germanica and seven tankers operated by Waterfront Shipping. Four more are expected to enter into service in 2019.
Several recent research projects have confirmed methanol’s suitability as a suitable replacement for conventional marine fuels in coastal, inland and shortsea sectors.
The decision to invite ISO to develop standards for methyl/ethyl alcohol fuel for ships was taken when MSC 99 discussed the report from the fourth session of the Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC). CCC has been tasked with drafting technical provisions for using methyl/ethyl alcohol as a ship fuel under an ongoing item on its agenda regarding amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code).
Read more about methanol from Chris Chatterton, COO, The Methanol Institute.