Babcock’s ethane fuel system gets LR AiP

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 20 September 2019


UK-based Classification society Lloyd’s Register (LR) has awarded Babcock LGE with Approval in Principle (AiP) for its ecoETHN solution, an innovative system designed to maximise the economic transportation of ethane in Very Large Ethane Carriers (VLECs), by combining the reliquefaction and ethane fuel supply systems. This is the first time such an application has been developed by the maritime industry.

ecoETHN helps owners and operators reduce power consumption within the reliquefaction plant by using excess methane as fuel. The system also presents benefits to ethane liquefaction terminals as it allows a higher content of methane in the ethane cargo and therefore can reduce liquefaction costs. The reception terminal will receive cargoes with a lower methane content, enabling them to produce a higher quality ethane for suppliers.

LR Babcock
Pictured from left to right: Andrew McKeran, LR’s Commercial Director, awarded Neale Campbell, Babcock’s Managing Director, an AiP for its ecoETHN® solution at Gastech 2019 (Houston, Texas).

Onboard a ship, the ecoETHN system separates excess methane from within the cargo boil-off gas (BOG) and feeds this into an ethane-fuelled VLEC engine, thereby reusing the incondensable methane gas as fuel. With no venting to the atmosphere, the industry-first design also minimises greenhouse gas emissions and as a result, the reliquefaction plant can optimise the operation whereby the system only condenses ethane boil-off gas.

LR carried out the appraisal of the system ensuring compliance with LR Rules and IGC Regulations, assessing the technical feasibility of the combined solution for the use of an enriched-methane ethane fuel supply system and maintaining cargo tank temperature/pressure control intended for the new generation of innovative VLECs.

Neale Campbell, Babcock’s Managing Director, commented, “We are delighted that the most recent addition to the Babcock LGE innovative technology portfolio has attracted so much positive attention from ethane producers and shippers in support of the industry-wide approach to reducing emissions and improving whole ship efficiency and effectiveness.”

Andrew McKeran, LR’s Commercial Director, Marine & Offshore, awarding the AiP said, “ecoETHN is a first for the industry and we’re incredibly proud to issue an AiP to Babcock LGE for their design. ecoETHN offers clear benefits to a variety of stakeholders, from power saving within the reliquefaction plant for owners, liquefaction terminals reducing costs by producing a higher content of methane in ethane, to terminals which can produce a high-quality ethane for their suppliers. ecoETHN also offers a greener alternative by preventing venting occurring into the atmosphere, reinforcing LR’s commitment to shipping’s transition to decarbonisation. We see this a great step in ethane’s journey as a marine fuel.”

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