The Methanol Institute (MI) is backing a project at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore to evaluate methanol as a marine fuel in Asia.
The first of the two-phase project includes desktop and bench-testing a methanol-powered engine in the GreenPilot program in Gothenburg, Sweden. The GreenPilot project aims to demonstrate the use of methanol as a fuel on smaller ships to improve competitive power and reduce shipping’s environmental impact. The second phase will see the engine installed on-board a harbour craft vessel in Singapore for a six-month sea trial. Engine teardown will test clearances and material compatibility following.
The cost of the pilot project is estimated at around S$200,000 and will cover the installation of the engine, bunkering, training and sea trials.
Data collected from the trials will be shared with official observers to improve the knowledge on methanol as a viable and efficient marine fuel.
A team from NTU recently carried out assessments on the technical and safety aspects of methanol-fuelled engines in commercial applications with ScandiNAOS, Stena Line and Lund Technical University as part of the GreenPilot project. Results indicated that it is feasible to convert a pilot boat to methanol operation using available technology. Spark-ignited engines with port-injected methanol were found to have engine efficiency similar to diesel engines. The project reported significant emissions reductions in sulphur, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulates compared with conventional fuel.
Chris Chatterton, chief operating officer, Methanol Institute, said: “For maritime players in Singapore, the project will be a useful demonstration of the benefits of methanol as a marine fuel, encouraging them to consider it as an alternative fuel once they gain a better understanding. The GreenPilot project together with others such as the SUMMETH (Sweden) and Methaship (Germany) projects, have shown that methanol can be easily adopted as a marine fuel at reasonable cost and without the complexity of other low emission alternatives.”
He continued: “The maritime industry is increasingly looking for more sustainable solutions to help deliver targeted emissions reductions and the prospect of renewable methanol offers a future proof answer. Methanol-fuelled ships can already use existing fuel tanks or even ballast water tanks for storage, thereby lowering the investment risks of new building or conversion, and the regulatory landscape is also moving in methanol’s direction.”