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Alternative Fuels

DNV: Taking methanol propulsion for MR tankers to the next level

With a bunkering procedure in place that has been approved and risk-assessed, the risks of methanol bunkering are lower than with conventional bunkering, says Jacob Norrby of Stena Teknik.




dnv taking methanol propulsion for mr tankers to the next level

Classification society DNV on Thursday (4 May) released a Maritime Impact article focusing on Proman Stena Bulk’s journey for a methanol-fuelled tanker fleet and DNV’s role in it.

The article also discusses methanol bunkering and the availability of green methanol:  

Proman Stena Bulk is a joint venture between a methanol producer and a tanker operator. Its purpose is to build and operate the most efficient methanol-fuelled tanker fleet in the market with a smooth transition path towards net zero, and demonstrate the feasibility of methanol as a decarbonization option.

As the shipping industry ponders its options to reach net zero by 2050, methanol as a marine fuel is attracting attention due to the relatively mature and easy-to-adapt technology that is needed and an evolved regulatory framework in place. Furthermore, to remain compliant with tightening carbon emission limits, a methanol-fuelled ship will be able to blend in appropriate amounts of blue or green methanol when required without needing any technical modifications. 

Christos Chryssakis, Business Development Manager at DNV, sees the comparatively low capital investment as an especially attractive aspect of methanol as an alternative fuel: “The cost of building a vessel is lower, the whole design is simpler, and the fuel is easier to handle than for example LNG, ammonia or hydrogen. We believe that methanol opens a very promising pathway into a carbon-neutral future.” The question it all hinges on is the future availability of blue and green methanol, he adds.

Proman and Stena Bulk aim to prove methanol as a sustainable fuel

But the industry is not sitting idle. In 2015 ferry operator Stena Line, a subsidiary of Gothenburg-based Stena AB, converted one of their RoPax ferries to methanol in a pilot project to explore the feasibility of this technology. It was the first engine conversion to methanol performed by Wärtsilä. The ferry has been able to operate on methanol since then, demonstrating the maturity of the technology.  

Meanwhile the Swiss-based company Proman, a leading producer of methanol and ammonia, was looking for a shipping partner interested in taking methanol propulsion to the next level. “We want to drive the sustainability of all our operations as far as possible,” explains Peter Schild, Managing Director Sustainability at Proman. “Creating a fleet of dual-fuel tankers was part of that concept. Since shipping is not our core competency, we found an ideal partner in Stena Bulk, a tanker operator and a pioneer in methanol-fuelled ship operation.” 

Six methanol-fuelled tankers to operate worldwide

The two companies established a joint venture called Proman Stena Bulk and ordered six methanol-ready, 49,900 DWT medium-range (MR) chemical tankers, each with a cargo capacity of about 54,000 cubic metres. Four of the ships have been delivered already and the remaining two are due for completion in late 2023 or early 2024.  

The vessels travel from Proman’s methanol hubs in Trinidad, Texas and Oman to the Far East and Europe. “The size of these vessels is ideal for large-volume transport to China,” says Erik Hånell, CEO of Stena Bulk. “They often operate on a multi-stop route taking methanol to China, then other chemical products to Europe before returning to the hub.” Stena Teknik is in charge of the technical and operational management while Proman handles commercial management. “What could be better than a ship owner with our experience cooperating with a methanol producer – it makes a lot of economic sense,” says Hånell.

T2 Tan 459 Stena Pro Patria bunkering in Rotterdam tcm71 242709

Class partnership based on common innovation mindset on methanol

All six vessels are built to DNV class, an acknowledgement of DNV’s leading position in the field of methanol technology: the world’s first methanol-ready tanker was built in 2016 to DNV class, and 18 of the current global methanol tanker fleet of 24 vessels are DNV-classified. Jacob Norrby, Head of Newbuilds and Projects at Stena Teknik, says another reason DNV was chosen for this project was a certain affinity between the companies: “We find DNV having a similar mindset to ours with regards to innovation and exploring cutting-edge technologies.” DNV also engages with its clients actively to understand their needs, Norrby adds. “That is a very good starting point for building a strong relationship.” 

Stena enjoys the good dialogue with DNV's headquarters in Høvik and with DNV Maritime in Sweden, says Norrby. “The initial discussions with DNV to explore valuable know-how were very beneficial, helping us address the right questions. During the plan approval process it was crucial to have skilled people available at DNV who can give answers swiftly. This sort of collaboration is very meaningful to us, and we appreciate it very much.” 

Design properties enable world-leading EEDI

The Proman Stena Bulk newbuilds feature a range of finely tuned design properties, such as hydrodynamic optimization, energy-saving devices, a shaft generator and a highly efficient electrical system, resulting in a world-leading EEDI that is seven per cent better than any other existing medium-range newbuild, says Norrby. “This is really an achievement because it means we need less energy. I believe we have introduced a new standard with these ships.” Furthermore, he adds, Stena is always looking at ways to harness more waste energy from the main engine using the boiler and heat exchangers. “We have introduced another waste heat recovery stage on the scavenging air cooler which brings out a few per cent extra.” 

The methanol combustion process requires adding about three to five per cent of MGO as pilot fuel and the ships could in theory operate on MGO alone if running out of methanol, says Norrby. “But our ships run on methanol practically the entire time,” he adds. The injection water used for NOx reduction is produced on board from sea water.

Risk-assessed bunkering process for methanol

Stena has long-standing experience with bunkering methanol and the associated risk control, says Norrby. “With a bunkering procedure in place that has been approved and risk-assessed, the risks are lower than with conventional bunkering. Currently that is the information I have seen working on a bunkering standard for Methanol. We are participating in that.”

Note: The full Maritime Impact article on ‘Taking methanol propulsion for MR tankers to the next level’ can be found here

Photo credit: DNV
Published: 8 May, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

DNV paper outlines bunkering of alternative marine fuels for boxships

Third edition of its paper series focuses on LNG, methanol and ammonia as alternative bunker fuel options for containerships; explores bunkering aspects for LNG and methanol.





DNV paper outlines bunkering of alternative marine fuels for boxships

Classification society DNV recently released the third edition of its paper series Alternative fuels for containerships, focused on LNG, methanol and ammonia as alternative bunker fuel options for containerships.

In its updated paper series, DNV examined the different alternative marine fuel options and provided an overview of the most important technical and commercial considerations for the containership sector.

It explored the bunkering technology for LNG, bunkering infrastructure for methanol, and availability and infrastructure of ammonia. 

Building on the foundation laid in the second edition, which focused on the most important aspects of methanol as a fuel, this latest third edition delves deeper  – exploring the technical intricacies and commercial considerations associated with adopting methanol as an alternative fuel for containerships.

Furthermore, it provides an overview of crucial aspects related to ammonia and discusses its potential as an alternative fuel for containerships.

Amongst others, the new edition of the paper looks at the following aspects:

  • Technical design considerations for methanol
  • Commercial implications of adopting methanol as an alternative fuel
  • Ammonia's potential as an alternative fuel
  • Availability, infrastructure and ship fuel technology for ammonia
  • Major updates based on the latest IMO GHG strategy decisions at the MEPC 80 meeting

Note: The third edition of DNV’s full paper titled Alternative Fuels for Containerships can be found here.

Related: DNV paper outlines bunkering infrastructure of alternative fuels for boxships

Photo credit: DNV
Published: 29 November, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

EDF, LR and Arup launch tool scoring ports’ potential to produce and bunker electrofuels

Tool is also applied to three different port scenarios, including ports exploring fuel production and bunkering, ports exploring fuel exports, and ports exploring fuel imports and bunkering.





EDF, LR and Arup launch tool scoring ports’ potential to produce and bunker electrofuels

Lloyd’s Register (LR) Maritime Decarbonisation Hub and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in collaboration with Arup, on Tuesday (28 November) introduced the Sustainable First Movers Initiative Identification Tool, a system to help shipping stakeholders align investment decisions that support the maritime energy transition away from fossil fuels.

The tool, which is presented in a preliminary findings report – The Potential of Ports in Developing Sustainable First Movers Initiatives – scores a port’s potential to produce and bunker electrofuels while delivering local environmental and community benefits in alignment with the global temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius set by the Paris Agreement.

“Ports can play an important role in kickstarting shipping’s decarbonisation process even before global policies are established,” said Marie Cabbia Hubatova, Director, Global Shipping at Environmental Defense Fund.

“By considering the impact sustainable first mover initiatives can have on port-side communities, climate, environment and economies, resources can be better directed to locations where these initiatives will make the biggest difference.”

With close to two billion people living near coastal zones globally, the role of, and impacts on local port communities must be intentionally considered as the sector decarbonises globally. Ports can play a crucial role in ensuring shipping decarbonisation efforts are done in a way that has positive impacts on port communities.

The preliminary phase of the Sustainable First Movers Initiative Identification Tool analyses 108 ports in the Indo-Pacific region according to five criteria including land suitability, air quality, renewable energy surplus, economic resilience and ship traffic.

It is also applied to three different port scenarios, including ports exploring fuel production and bunkering, ports exploring fuel exports, and ports exploring fuel imports and bunkering. The combined criteria and scenario evaluation determines which ports have the greatest potential (high potential) for sustainable first mover initiatives to lead to significant emissions reductions and positive impacts in nearby communities, such as improved air quality and economic resilience.

“The transition to clean energy supply for shipping can be achieved only if stakeholders act together. Identifying potential port locations is the first step in this process,” said Dr Carlo Raucci, Consultant at Lloyd’s Register Maritime Decarbonisation Hub. “This approach sets the base for a regional sustainable transition that considers the impacts on port-side communities and the need to avoid regions in the Global South lagging behind.”

Regions in the Global South are fundamental in driving the decarbonisation of shipping. To make this transition effective, the rate at which different countries adopt and scale up electrofuels must be proportional to the difference in capital resources globally to avoid additional costs being passed on to local communities. Sustainable first mover initiatives can play an important role in making this happen by ensuring the sector’s decarbonisation is inclusive of all regions and by engaging all shipping stakeholders, including port-side communities.

“There’s a huge opportunity for early adopter shipping decarbonisation initiatives to unlock benefits for people and planet – shaping the way for a more equitable transition in the 2030s,” said Mark Button, Associate, Arup. “Our collective approach shows that taking a holistic view of shipping traffic, fuel production potential and port communities could help prioritise action at ports with the greatest near-term potential.”

The tool can be customised according to stakeholders’ needs and goals and is dependent on scenario desirability. The next phase of this work will include the selection and detailed assessment of 10 ports to help better understand local needs and maximise the value offered by sustainable first mover initiatives. 

LR and EDF carried out a joint study on ammonia as shipping fuel, and LR and Arup have collaborated on The Resilience Shift study focused on fuel demand for early adopters in green corridors, ports, and energy systems, amongst many other projects.

Photo credit: Lloyd’s Register
Published: 29 November, 2023

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Wärtsilä signs agreement for first zero-emission high speed ferries in US

Group has signed a strategic partnership agreement to provide its Fleet Electrification and Systems Integrator Services for a project to build the first zero-emission high speed ferries in the United States.





Wärtsilä signs agreement for first zero-emission high speed ferries in US

Technology group Wärtsilä on Tuesday (28 November) said it has signed a strategic partnership agreement to provide its Fleet Electrification and Systems Integrator Services for a project to build the first zero-emission high speed ferries in the United States.

The fully electric vessels will be built for San Francisco’s Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), the operator of the San Francisco Bay Ferry system.

The project, and several others Wärtsilä will work on under this partnership, are a part of the agency’s Rapid Electric Emission-Free (REEF) Ferry Program, a phased decarbonisation of high-speed, high-capacity ferry service in the San Francisco Bay. 

Wärtsilä will work within the WETA project team to finalise vessel and charging system concepts.

“We’re proud to operate the cleanest high-speed ferry fleet in the nation, but a zero-emission future for our system is within reach,” said WETA Executive Director, Seamus Murphy. 

“Wärtsilä’s expertise and experience will be incredibly valuable given the complexity our ferry decarbonisation program entails.”

“This is a major project within the maritime sector’s journey towards decarbonisation, and we are proud to be a part of it,” said Hanno Schoonman, Director of sales for AMER region, Wärtsilä Marine Power. 

“Wärtsilä joins an industry leading team tasked to develop newbuild battery electric vessels that combine innovative technology and sustainable practices. Wärtsilä is well qualified to provide this project support, and this agreement is a clear endorsement of our strong track record in systems integration and emission-free propulsion.”

After completing the conceptual phase, WETA will move on to the initial construction phase of a multi-vessel programme. This phase will involve the building of three smaller ferries with a capacity of approximately 150 passengers each and two larger ferries capable of carrying at least 300 passengers. 

Additionally, the scope of this phase will encompass the inclusion of battery charging floats. The construction of the first electric-powered vessel is slated to commence before the conclusion of 2023, with commercial operations expected to launch in 2025.

Photo credit: Wärtsilä 
Published: 29 November, 2023

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