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Methanol project launched

Will assess technical, operational and economic factors for a variety of ship sizes and types

The Green Maritime Methanol consortium has selected nine ships for research on the application of renewable methanol as a marine fuel. These include new and existing ships operated Boskalis, Van Oord, the Royal Netherlands Navy and Wagenborg Shipping.

The vessel sizes vary in length from between 40-160 metres, with tonnage ranging from 300 to 23,000 dwt and in installed power from 1 to 12 MW. Initially the research will determine of the cost for implementation and use of methanol fuel systems and compare the results with using low sulphur marine diesel.


The consortium says that each of the ships has its own specific operational profile, providing an insight into the feasibility of methanol for a certain ship type, its sailing route and cruising speed. As well as cargo vessels the project will cover ferries, dredgers and support vessels operating in coastal waters.


For each scenario the most attractive technical, operational and economical configurations will be determined. The parties envision sharing and exchanging knowledge within the consortium with opportunities to further develop methanol as a transport fuel for the maritime sector. The Green Maritime Methanol consortium comprises Bio MCN, Royal Boskalis, Bureau Veritas, C-Job Naval Architects, Damen Shipyards, Defence Material Organisation, Feadship, Helm Proman, Royal IHC, Royal Netherlands Naval Institute (KIM/FMW), Royal Association of Netherlands’ Shipowners (KVNR), Lloyd’s Register, MARIN, Maritime Knowledge Centre (MKC), Marine Service Noord (MSN), Methanol Institute, Port of Amsterdam, Port of Rotterdam, Pon Power, TNO, TU Delft, Van Oord, Netherlands Association of Importers of Combustion Engines (VIV), Wagenborg Shipping and Wärtsilä.


Guidelines for Low-Flashpoint Fuels
Alternative fuels including LNG, LPG, methyl alcohol (methanol) and ethyl alcohol can reduce the amount of CO2 emissions by 10% to 20% compared to conventional oil fuels, according to classification society ClassNK. As these have lower flashpoints compared to traditional fuels, specific safety precautions are required to decrease the risk of fire and explosions due to fuel leakage onboard the ship. International safety requirements for low-flashpoint fuels have been discussed at IMO and as a result, the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) has been adopted and enforced. The current code however, does not address specific regulations for alternative fuels other than LNG.

Now ClassNK has released its Guidelines for Ships Using Low-Flashpoint Fuels (Methyl/Ethyl Alcohol / LPG) which outline safety requirements for other viable alternative fuels besides LNG, based “on the latest technology and regulation trends in order to promote the design of alternative fuelled ships”. The guidelines cover three categories of vessel: those using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel, those fuelled by LPG and finally liquid gas carriers fuelled by LPG. They take into consideration the properties of each fuel type and ship regulations and indicate safety requirements for the arrangement and installation of the low-flashpoint fuel related systems for minimizing risks to vessels, crew, and the environment.

The guidelines are said to reflect current trends and will be amended periodically, to accommodate any changes in the IGF Code during future IMO discussions and the rapid development of new technologies.

ClassNK’s Director of its Plan Approval and Technical Solution Division, Hayato Suga, said: “In addition to LNG, low-flashpoint fuels like methyl/ethyl alcohol and LPG are providing ships with alternative fuel options that have diverse characteristics in terms of environmental performance, availability, price, and more. Regardless of the choice, adequate safety measures are essential. Our latest guidelines have incorporated regulatory trends and our expertise proposes the appropriate requirements tailored to Methyl, Ethyl Alcohol, and LPG respectively. I hope they will be well utilised for the efficient design and construction practice of ships using those fuels”.

Biofuel project
An expanded partnership between VARO Energy subsidiary REINPLUS FIWADO Bunker and GoodFuels is aimed at improving the availability of GoodFuels’ Bio Fuel Oil, which the company launched in autumn 2018.


The move extends the steps taken by VARO and GoodFuels last year to form a partnership focused on scaling sustainable marine biofuels for the European inland shipping market.


The new partnership will see VARO help expand the sourcing, production, blending and distribution of GoodFuels Bio Fuel Oil across the ARA region. Meanwhile GoodFuels will continue to focus on the sourcing of sustainable feedstocks for the Bio Fuel Oil, and the sale, marketing and product development of new sustainable fuel solutions.


GoodFuels’ BFO is described as a “direct ‘drop-in’ replacement for heavy fuel oil, containing no sulphur and 90% less carbon when compared to traditional fossil-based fuels such as heavy fuel oil”. The biofuels are said to suitable for every type of vessel, without requiring any modifications to engine room equipment.


REINPLUS FIWADO Bunker’s managing director, Ben van Kolsaid, said: “Due to upcoming IMO spec changes and stricter emission requirements, the demand for alternative shipping fuels is increasing.”


GoodFuels CEO, Dirk Kronemeijer, said: “This collaboration will enable us to rapidly scale and offer one of the most climate-friendly fuel options for shipping to deep sea customers in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp region. Decarbonisation makes the adoption of alternative fuel solutions increasingly important and we are confident that this will help to further accelerate the maritime industry’s sustainability drive.”


Hydrogen power for newbuildings
The European innovation project FLAGSHIPS has been awarded Euros 5 million in EU funding to support the building of two commercially-operated, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vessels in France and Norway.


The FLAGSHIPS project will support two newbuildings, one in Lyon, France and the other in Stavanger, Norway. In Lyon, a hydrogen push-boat operated by Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT) will serve as a utility vessel on the Rhône. In Stavanger, hydrogen is intended to power a passenger and car ferry operated by Norled as part
of the local public transport network.


The funds awarded to the FLAGSHIPS project have been granted from EU’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.

The project’s aim is that both vessels will run on hydrogen produced from renewable energy. A FLAGSHIPS statement says: “This will not only enable truly zero-emission operation of the ships, but also create a solid basis for further local zero-emission transport deployment both at sea as well as on land.”


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