Project praises methanol potential for emission reduction

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 23 October 2018


Medium speed engines running on methanol could help to dramatically reduce shipping’s CO2 emissions a report from the MethaShip project has concluded.

The MethaShip research project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and included shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Flensburger, engine makers Caterpillar and MAN Energy Solutions, classification society Lloyd’s Register and chemical marketing specialist Helm. Its main aim was to study the use of methanol as a fuel for cruise and ro-pax vessel types.

The Methanol Institute has welcomed the findings of the MethaShip research project which has concluded that renewable Methanol offers a long-term solution for the industry’s ambitious carbon emission reduction strategy. The MethaShip partners found that Methanol can offer a dramatic improvement in emissions reduction across multiple ship types once the IMO has established the statutory framework conditions necessary for an industry-wide reduction of CO2 emissions.

“The whole shipping sector is facing major challenges with ever stricter emission regulations for ships, paired with a growing environmental awareness among ship owners and passengers alike,” said MethaShip Project Leader Daniel Sahnen of MEYER WERFT. “Some technical and financial details still need to be clarified but in the medium term a breakthrough could be possible with Methanol as a fuel for a holistic reduction of CO2 emissions.”

“Methanol is a clear, water-soluble, biodegradable fluid and in contrast to other alternative fuels such as LNG, it offers the crucial advantage of being very easy to handle,” said Methanol Institute Chief Representative Europe Eelco Dekker. “In addition to its potential for long term emissions reduction, the easier storage and transport properties are a strong driver behind the growing interest in using methanol as a fuel for shipping.”

MethaShip’s key conclusions include:

  • The properties of Methanol surpass other alternative fuels in shipping
  • The major benefit is the storage at ambient temperature and ambient pressure without loss;
  • In terms of ship design, Methanol is space-saving, simple and practical with the established advantages of a liquid fuel;
  • Methanol offers compelling environmental properties and has the most promising lifecycle analysis when produced from renewable sources;
  • An already widespread infrastructure and availability could be a key enabler for Methanol.
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