Green Maritime Methanol partners launch engine testing programme

  • Business developments & projects

The Green Maritime Methanol consortium, which studies the possibilities for renewable methanol as a maritime transport fuel, has achieved a new project milestone. 

The Dutch consortium has announced the successful start of the engine test programme on 100 per cent methanol. New tests are being planned by the consortium which recently welcomed two more partners.

In January 2020, Pon Power started its engine testing programme with a Caterpillar 3508 spark-ignited high-speed gas engine. With customised cylinder heads and a customised engine control management system, the engine operated on 100 per cent methanol as a fuel.

As explained, the test setup enables the researchers to study questions with regard to optimisation of ignition timing, lubricating requirements and emissions of e.g. CO2 and NOx. In the coming months, Pon Power and the Netherlands’ Defence Academy (NLDA) will continue to perform more engine tests on this Caterpillar 3508 engine.

NLDA is also preparing a test programme for their MAN engine. These tests include methanol injection directly in the cylinder blended with diesel which acts as pilot fuel for igniting the mixture. The tests are planned to include both a mixture stabilised by an emulsifier and a mixture blended mechanically. In the longer run, tests are also planned with methanol intake via the air inlet and ignition using diesel injected directly in the cylinder.

The behaviour of several diesel, methanol and emulsifier compositions is currently being studied in collaboration with TNO Eindhoven and the Netherlands’ Navy Chemical Laboratory in Den Helder. At a later stage, tests are planned with methanol intake via the air inlet and ignition using diesel directly injected into the cylinder. During 2020, more engine tests will be conducted, providing essential data for several future ship designs and propulsion trains on board.

In May 2019, the consortium selected nine ships for research on the application of renewable methanol as a marine fuel. It chose new designs, newbuilds as well as existing ships of Boskalis, Van Oord, the Royal Netherlands Navy and Wagenborg Shipping. The vessel sizes vary in length from between 40-160 meters, with tonnage ranging from 300-23,000 dwt and in installed power from 1-12 MW.

Two new entrants join the consortium

The consortium has recently extended its membership with the addition of two organisations — Rijksrederij and Ghent University.

Rijksrederij is the Dutch governmental organisation responsible for the management, manning and maintenance of more than 100 specialised vessels. The fleet provides services for customs, coast guard, fisheries research and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

Gent University is one of the early movers in the research for methanol as a transport fuel for shipping. In the European LeanShips project, Ghent University converted a Volvo Penta D7C-B-TA high-speed diesel engine for dual fuel operation on both methanol and diesel. To lower the threshold of adopting this technology, the converted engine also maintained 100 per cent diesel capability.

Supported by TKI Maritiemand and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the project runs until December 2020.

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