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Japan’s first methanol-fuelled domestic tanker to be developed by six local firms

14 Mar 2022

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., MOL Coastal Shipping, Ltd., Tabuchi Kaiun Co., Ltd., Niihama Kaiun Co., Ltd., Murakami Hide Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., and The Hanshin Diesel Works, Ltd. on Friday (11 March) said they have agreed to form a strategic alliance to develop a methanol-fuelled domestic tanker.

The vessel development project, which targets delivery of the ship in 2024, was also selected to receive public funding through the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), “Subsidy for ‘Project on Transport Efficiency improvement Utilizing using AI/IoT (Demonstration Project on Domestic Ship Innovative Operation Efficiency)”.

The funding subsidises the costs required to conduct the demonstration project with the aim of optimising overall transport by introducing measures on software aspects such as ship operation planning and optimization of cargo handling operations, as well as hardware-based steps such as energy-saving ship designs, high-efficiency propulsion systems, and systems and equipment to enhance cargo-handling operations.

The firms in a joint statement said methanol can reduce emissions of sulphur oxide (SOx) by up to 99%, particulate matter (PM) by up to 95%, nitrogen oxide (NOx) by up to 80%, and carbon dioxide (CO2) by up to 15%, compared to vessels using conventional fuel oil, which is currently the main fuel for marine vessels.

Methanol has outstanding properties for use as a fuel, as it is liquid at normal temperatures and normal air pressure.

Methanol fuel has been more widely introduced on ocean-going vessels as an environmentally friendly fuel, including four MOL Group-operated ships, but this will be the first methanol-fueled Domestic ship.

In addition, methanol can be produced with CO2 and hydrogen as raw material, so in the future, it can be produced by utilizing the CO2 capture and transport business to synthesize hydrogen, which uses electricity derived from renewable resources such as offshore wind power and wave power.

If this methanol can be used as fuel, it can establish an environmental circulation type business model, enabling a reduction in net CO2 emissions.

The six alliance partners will each orchestrate their advantages in technology, expertise, and networks aiming to realize a decarbonised society.

 

Photo credit: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Published: 14 March, 2022

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