A green light for the adoption of methanol as a sustainable marine fuel has been given by the Sustainable Marine Methanol (SUMMETH) project.
The research concluded that there are no obstacles to the efficient use of methanol in a converted diesel engine and that smaller vessel conversion projects are feasible and cost-effective, with levels of safety that easily meet existing requirements.
SUMMETH is an effort supported by the MARTEC II network and co-funded by the Swedish Maritime Administration, Region Vastra Gotaland, Oiltanking and the Methanol Institute.
Dr Joanne Ellis, Project Manager for SSPA, which led the research says the partners sought to build on the work already done in earlier research projects that resulted in the Stena Lines and Waterfront Shipping methanol dual-fuel vessels, using a vessel type that could use methanol in a converted single-fuel engine.
“The work on Stena Germanica and the Waterfront Shipping vessels proved the dual fuel concept in larger vessels; we wanted to understand whether conversion of a smaller engine was feasible,” she says.
“We looked at a road ferry with an engine capacity of about 350 kW which makes short trips between the mainland and the island of Ljusterö in the Stockholm archipelago, carrying people as well as cars, where there was a real desire to improve the emissions profile.”
Dr Ellis adds that as biomethanol increasingly becomes available, vessel operators will have the opportunity to blend in this zero-carbon fuel and progressively meet emission reduction targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
“The Swedish government has recently asked the country’s Transport Administration to investigate making all of its ferries, pilot boats, icebreakers and workboats fossil-free by either 2030 or 2045, something that could make biomethanol increasingly attractive,” she notes.
“Sweden has the potential to satisfy required demand for the biomethanol, which can be produced from renewable feedstock such as pulp mill waste, and there are several initiatives underway investigating the production of sustainable methanol.”
Topic areas of the project’s final reports include the technical feasibility of converting vessels to propulsion using methanol, the resulting environmental performance, bunkering issues and fuel supply now and in the future.
The research programme was conducted by SSPA, ScandiNAOS, Marine Benchmark, Lund University, the Swedish Transport Administration Road Ferries, Scania, SMTF and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
A copy of the SUMMETH report can be downloaded here.
Photo credit: Truls Persson
Published: 31 May, 2018
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