Methanol fuel for commercial marine
In attempts to reduce the emissions from marine engines, methanol has been trialled as a fuel in larger marine diesels with some success notes Dag Pike.
Now methanol is being used successfully as a fuel for smaller craft with trials taking place on engines fitted to a pilot boat. This development is taking place under the GreenPilot scheme being developed with the cooperation of a number of Swedish research institutes.
Methanol is an alcohol based fuel and it is mainly produced from natural gas but it can also be extracted from some residual fuels and other organic waste. By using methanol as a fuel for marine engines the emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and particulates are considerably reduced. This makes methanol a viable fuel for use in built up areas hence the development of this fuel for use in a pilot boat and the trials have shown up to a 90% reduction in the emissions.
The GreenPilot trials involved adapting two Scania 13 litre diesel engines to operate on the fuel. Because of its light fuel characteristics, the engines were initially converted to spark ignition with the fuel in injected into the air intake of the engines. The final version of the engines now uses compression ignition in a similar manner to a diesel engine which will make them more acceptable in the commercial sector. The methanol engine produces 400 kW and meets all current emission standards.
Following the successful trials with these engines in the pilot boat it is anticipated that engines for full scale trials will be delivered in 2019. The fuel works with both variable speed engines such as those in the pilot boat and for fixed speed units such as generators.
The work on this development has been carried out by Gothenburg based ScandiNAOS AB, a company with considerable expertise in the development of methanol as a fuel for shipping. Partners in the Green Pilot project have been the Swedish Maritime Technology Forum, the Swedish Transport Agency and the Swedish Maritime Administration. Methanol is seen as one of the most promising ways of reducing emissions from boats and ships for the sensitive areas of the Baltic and it can be delivered by road tanker without the need for dedicated refuelling facilities.
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