Methanol is the marine fuel of the future

Methanol as a marine fuel of the future was in focus in the conference Making Marine Applications Greener which was held in Reykjavik on October 4.

The goal of the conference was to establish a dialogue between Nordic players involved in relevant maritime projects and those interested in new ones. Low- and zero emission solutions for the maritime sector are becoming an increasingly important topic for governments and authorities in the Nordic countries.

Methanol is a great maritime fuel as it is clean burning and biodegradable. With green methanol, such as produces by CRI‘s Emissions-to-Liquids technology, CO2 emissions can reduced up to 100%.

For Iceland and increasing shipping traffic in the Arctic, these qualities are specifically important as soot speeds up glacier and icebergs melting and potential oil spills could have a devastating effect on fisheries and wildlife in the Arctic Circle. 

Another benefit of methanol is its long history of safe handling and can be implemented with minor modification to current ship designs and fuel infrastructure with low cost relative to other clean fuel conversions.

Cleaner low emission marine fuel is getting increased traction with the fishing industry both as part of the image of sustainable fishing, positive effects on health and spirit of crew and higher value of end product that has a low CO2 footprint. Also, stricter regulations on emissions are anticipated in the near future.

Several projects and initiatives running on methanol as a fuel are in place and were presented at the conference.

For example S-Korean and Japanese shipyards are building 9 large methanol tankers, 6 of which will be delivered to Methanex in 2016. These 50.000 ton ships will operate on MAN ME-LGI flex-fuel engines which can run on methanol, bunker fuel, marine diesel or gasoline. In addition, Stena Line Sweden has converted a 1,300 passenger ferry with a flex-fuel engine from Wärtsilä. The main engine can burn methanol and marine diesel.

At the conference, awards for the Sustainable Ship Competition were announced and for both proposals, Vulcanol played a key role. 

First prize was awarded to Rensea 3G for a proposal of a multipurpose sustainable ship with wide sails that capture both wind and solar power - and a spare engine powered by environmentally friendly energy sources, such as methanol.

Runner up was a proposal of a 48 meter long liner specially designed to optimize energy efficiency and emissions from all of the ships operations. The ship will have 1,200 kW electric propulsion motor, 800 kWh batteries and 3,400 kW main engines methanol fueled. The project consortium consists of Hafið, Klappir, Skipasýn, Viðskiptahúsið and Rensea.