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Alternative Fuels

Svitzer, Robert Allan to design world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell tug

Tug will use an electrical propulsion system with methanol fuel cells and batteries; secondary methanol fuelled generators will provide backup power if required without need for a secondary bunker fuel.

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Svitzer, a global towage provider and part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, on Thursday (17 August) announced the launch of the second phase of its project to design the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell (MHFC) tug.  

Svitzer said it conducted technical studies to establish the feasibility of this type of vessel accommodating the real-world operational requirements of a tug. Work will now begin between Svitzer and leading naval architect company, Robert Allan Ltd. to design the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell (MHFC) tug. 

“The next phase will include work to complete the vessel design, scope considerations for vessel construction, and onboard equipment selection necessary to build the vessel,” the firm said in a statement. 

The MHFC tug will use an electrical propulsion system with methanol fuel cells and batteries delivering a self-sustained tug with longer endurance and fewer operational constraints than a purely battery-powered vessel. Secondary methanol fuelled generators will provide backup power if required without the need for a secondary fuel. 

Calculations indicate that the MHFC tug running on green methanol would prevent approximately 1,300 tonnes of CO2 annually from being emitted into the atmosphere, compared to fossil-fuel-based vessels of the same dimensions within Svitzer’s global fleet.  

The design of the MHFC tug will be a joint project between Svitzer and Robert Allan Ltd. using Svitzer’s TRAnsverse tug design as the platform. Svitzer will look to forge partnerships with other companies to finalise the selection of onboard equipment, such as the batteries and fuel cell system, and to support construction once the design phase is complete. 

Gareth Prowse, Head of Decarbonisation at Svitzer, said: “We’re excited to enter the next phase of delivering the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell tug. This project is a major milestone in Svitzer’s commitment to the decarbonisation of our global fleet and demonstrates our ability to harness new technologies and alternative fuels to deliver innovations that will have a significant, positive impact on shipping’s road to net zero.” 

“The combination of fuel cell technology and green methanol will result in improved operational efficiencies, resulting in less fuel consumption and lower emissions. We’re delighted to be collaborating with Robert Allan Ltd. to design the MHFC tug and look forward to bringing on new partners to construct the vessel which will operate at the Port of Gothenburg in Sweden.”  

The MHFC is expected to enter operations in the second half of 2025 at the Port of Gothenburg in Sweden, where methanol is the low-carbon alternative fuel of choice. 

Göran Eriksson, Port of Gothenburg CEO, said: "The Port of Gothenburg has set ambitious targets to reduce shipping emissions within the port area by 70% by 2030. To deliver on that ambition, the transition of shipping lines from fossil fuels to more sustainable fuels such as green methanol is critically important.”

“Svitzer's decision to design and construct the world's first methanol hybrid fuel cell tug is a major milestone which sets the example for the long-term decarbonisation of global towage services. We're excited to welcome this pioneering new vessel to the Port of Gothenburg when it enters into operation in 2025.” 

Mathias Jonasson, Managing Director for Scandinavia & Germany at Svitzer, said: “Svitzer has been delivering safe and efficient towage services to customers in the Port of Gothenburg for decades. In addition to its ambitious emission reduction targets, the Port of Gothenburg has already gathered valuable experiences regarding the safe and convenient bunkering of methanol. The port’s experience and position as an emerging methanol bunker hub, combined with our long-standing collaboration and relationship, makes the Port of Gothenburg an obvious location for us to deploy the world’s first methanol hybrid fuel cell tug.” 

Jim Hyslop Director, Project Development Principle at Robert Allan Ltd., said: “Robert Allan Ltd. is excited to be working with Svitzer to develop the world’s first Methanol Hybrid Fuel Cell Tug. Based on the award-winning TRAnsverse design, the innovative propulsion system on this new tug will enable operation completely free of fossil fuels. This is a major step forward in the path to decarbonising the tug industry, and we are extremely proud to be at the forefront of developments in these new technologies.”

 

Photo credit: Svitzer
Published: 18 August, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

IUMI: How can liability and compensation regimes adapt to alternative bunker fuels and cargoes?

Existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative marine fuels will bring.

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Dangerous cargo

By Tim Howse, Member of the IUMI Legal & Liability Committee and Vice President, Head of Industry Liaison, Gard (UK) Limited

The world economy is transitioning, with industries across the board seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and embrace more sustainable practices. As part of this, there is a huge effort within our industry to look to decarbonise, using alternative fuels such as biofuel, LNG, LPG, ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.

Until now there has been much focus on carbon emissions and operational risks associated with the use of alternative fuels. This includes increased explosivity, flammability, and corrosivity. An ammonia leak causing an explosion in port could result in personal injuries, not to mention property damage, air, and sea pollution. In addition, alternative fuels may not be compatible with existing onboard systems, increasing the risk of breakdowns and fuel loss resulting in pollution. Apart from these safety concerns, which particularly concern crew, air pollution and other environmental impacts need to be addressed.

However, the green transition also presents us with a separate regulatory challenge, which has received less attention so far. So, whilst carbon emissions and safety concerns are rightly on top of the agenda now, the industry also needs to prioritise the potential barriers in the legal and regulatory frameworks which will come sharply into focus if there is an accident.

If anything, historic maritime disasters like the Torrey Canyon spill in 1967, have taught us that we should look at liability and compensation regimes early and with a degree of realism to ensure society is not caught off-guard. With our combined experience, this is perhaps where the insurance industry can really contribute to the transition.

Currently, existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative fuels will bring. For example, an ammonia fuel spill would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunkers Convention), potentially resulting in a non-uniform approach to jurisdiction and liability. Similarly, an ammonia cargo incident would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC). Uncertainties may also exist in the carriage of CO2 as part of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, which may be treated as a pollutant, with corresponding penalties or fines.

A multitude of questions will arise depending on what happens, where it happens, and the values involved, many of which may end up as barriers for would be claimants. How will such claims be regulated, will there be scope for limitation of liability, and would there be a right of direct action against the insurers? In the absence of a uniform international liability, compensation and limitation framework, shipowners, managers, charterers, individual crew, and the insurers may be at the mercy of local actions. Increased concerns about seafarer criminalisation (even where international conventions exist, ‘wrongful’ criminalisation does still occur) may emerge, creating another disincentive to go to sea.

When being carried as a cargo, the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS), which is not yet in force, may resolve some of these issues for alternative fuels and CO2. However, until HNS comes into force, there will be no international uniformity to liability and compensation for the carriage of alternative fuels and CO2 as cargoes. This creates uncertainties for potential victims and their insurers, who may face increased risks and costs, due to the potential inability of existing regulations to provide protections.

The situation is even less clear in the case of bunkers. The rules for using alternative fuels as bunkers might require a separate protocol to HNS, a protocol to the Bunkers Convention, or a whole new convention specifically for alternative fuels.  Relevant considerations for the appropriate legislative vehicle include states’ preparedness to reopen the Bunkers Convention, the ability to conclude a protocol to HNS before it comes into force, and whether a multi-tier fund structure is needed for alternative fuels as bunkers (perhaps unnecessary because bunkers are usually carried in smaller quantities compared to cargoes).

Until then, what we are left with are the existing international protective funds, designed to respond at the highest levels to pollution claims resulting from an oil spill, without any similar mechanism in place to respond to a spill of alternative fuels, which are themselves so central to a green transition. Somewhat perversely, victims of accidents involving an oil spill may therefore enjoy better protections than victims of an alternative fuels spill.

In summary, while the use of alternative fuels will no doubt help to reduce the industry's carbon footprint, there are safety and practical hurdles to overcome. Stakeholders must also come together to find solutions to complex - and urgent, in relative terms - legal and regulatory challenges.

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Source:  International Union of Marine Insurance
Published: 13 June 2024

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Ammonia

Expert discusses technical considerations of using ammonia as marine fuel

Ammonia as bunker fuel poses significant safety challenges due to its toxicity and flammability, says Senior Marine Surveyor Muammer Akturk.

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Technical considerations of ammonia as marine fuel

Muammer Akturk, a Senior Marine Surveyor specialising in alternative bunker fuels, on Monday (10 June) published an article on technical considerations of using ammonia as a marine fuel in his Alternative Marine Fuels Newsletter.

The article dives into the use of ammonia as a marine fuel, focusing on the safety and technical considerations necessary for its implementation.

Ammonia is recognised for its potential as a zero-carbon fuel, making it an attractive option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry. However, it poses significant safety challenges due to its toxicity and flammability.

Key points discussed include:

  1. Safety Measures: The importance of stringent design and operational safety measures to prevent ammonia releases and mitigate risks during both normal and emergency conditions is emphasized. This includes the need for gas dispersion analyses and the use of safety systems like gas detectors and alarms
  2. Regulatory Framework: The article reviews the latest regulations and guidelines developed to ensure the safe use of ammonia as a marine fuel. This includes the IACS Unified Requirement H1, which provides a framework for controlling ammonia releases on vessels
  3. Engineering Considerations: Technical aspects such as fuel storage, handling systems, and the role of risk assessments in identifying potential hazards and implementing preventive measures are detailed
  4. Human Factors: The article also considers the human factors approach to safety, emphasizing training and the importance of designing systems that account for human errorOverall, the article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the challenges and solutions associated with using ammonia as a marine fuel, highlighting the importance of safety and regulatory compliance in its adoption.

Editor’s note: The full article can be found at the link here.

 

Published: 13 June 2024

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Methanol

Green Marine Fuels Trading, Vopak team up on green methanol port storage facilities

Green Marine Fuels revealed a strategic collaboration with Vopak to secure necessary port storage to accommodate green methanol supply in Shanghai, Tianjin and later in Singapore.

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Green Marine Fuels Trading, Vopak team up on green methanol port storage facilities

Green Marine Fuels Trading on Tuesday (11 June) announced a strategic collaboration with Royal Vopak Terminals in the key ports of Shanghai Caojing and Tianjin Lingang, China. 

The firm said the milestone agreement marked the next phase of methanol supply chain infrastructure expansion for Green Marine Fuels Trading, securing necessary port storage capacity to accommodate projected supply of green methanol from Chinese business partners.  

Green Marine will be undertaking a similar cooperation plan with Vopak Singapore as well. 

Gavin McGrath, Director at Green Marine, said: “This is an important milestone in the evolution of Green Marine Fuels Trading and further underscores our preparedness to supply green methanol to the imminent green transition within the shipping industry.” 

“Our leadership in the global methanol marine fuel sector uniquely positions us to bridge the gap between methanol producers and buyers, with storage and supply infrastructure being a crucial link in the chain.”

“We eagerly anticipate leveraging our expertise in these domains to enrich the Shanghai and Tianjin green port and marine fuel ecosystems.”

Manifold Times previously reported Vopak signing a strategic cooperation agreement with the Vice Mayor of Tianjin delegation to support the repurposing of Vopak Tianjin's infrastructure for new energies, including green methanol, sustainable aviation fuel, and potentially ammonia and liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC).

Vopak said Tianjin Port Group will work closely with Vopak to develop a green methanol bunkering service solution.

Related: Tianjin Port Group and Vopak partner to develop green methanol bunkering service

 

Photo credit: Green Marine Group
Published: 12 June 2024

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