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Horizons January 2015

LR project studies new generation of methanol-powered passenger ships

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A whole new generation of cruise ships and ro-paxes powered by methanol could be at the forefront of a low-emission, fuel-efficient revolution in today’s global fleet.

operating systems for using methanol as a fuel is similar to existing fuel systems, although they will need to be adapted to deal with the low flashpoint and low energy content disadvantages of methanol.”

Just how this might happen is the theme of a project called MethaShip recently launched by the project’s three key partners, the German shipyard Meyer Werft, Lloyd’s Register and the German shipbuilder FlensburgerFlensburger SchiffbauGesellschaft (FSG). Funded by the German government, the project will assess the feasibility of building new methanol-powered vessels.

The introduction on 1 January of the 0.1% sulphur limit in sulphur emission control areas (SECAs) will have a major impact on the global fleet in general and cruise ships and ferries in particular. “In ECAs, methanol is widely regarded as a better alternative to HFO than LNG. It is easier to handle, because it is a liquid at ambient temperature and pressure, and so, unlike LNG, does not have to be cooled down to -163°. In

Two designs for a cruise ship and a ro-pax ferry will be developed during the three-year project, with Meyer Werft overseeing the cruise ship design, Flensburger co-ordinating the ro-pax ferry concept and LR carrying out the approval in principle (AiP) for both schemes. LR’s Hamburg-based Project Manager, Dirk Schroeder, said: “I believe methanol has great potential as a fuel for ships. While LNG has been widely promoted as the fuelefficient alternative for shipowners and operators seeking low-emission alternatives to heavy fuel oil (HFO), recent research into methanolas-a-fuel has revealed a number of benefits. The design of ships’

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A methanol converted engine for a ship

the end, the price and availability of the fuel will determine the extent of its success,” added Schroeder. To minimise the costs of using methanol-as-a-fuel, MethaShip is also investigating the possibilities of using the thermal losses from engines driven by methanol. “While fuels that contain sulphur can generate sulphuric acid in their exhaust gas, at temperatures below dew point, methanol contains no sulphur. Thus it becomes possible to use more of the thermal energy from the exhaust gas as the gas can be cooled down further without forming sulphuric acid,” said Schroeder.

Horizons January 2015  

The January 2015 issue of LR's Horizons magazine is packed with the latest news from the marine industry including two world firsts. There’s...

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