Swedish trio to develop methanol dual-fuel conversion kits for diesel engines

Marine design and engine developer ScandiNAOS AB, Chalmers University of Technology and the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) have launched a project to develop dual-fuel kits for the conversion of new and existing diesel engines to methanol operation.

Swedish Maritime Administration

As informed, the project will see ScandiNAOS develop and implement a dual-fuel kit in a pilot boat owned and operated by the SMA.

The kit will be generic and capable for retrofit to a large range of existing diesel engines of different brands. It will target engines up to 1000 kW and will accelerate the transition to low-emission fuel and sustainable operations for marine and industrial applications.

The adoption of dual-fuel kits will enable the conversion of more ships and boats more quickly, since a conversion kit can be cost-efficiently applied to existing engines while maintaining the fuel flexibility to run on either methanol, MGO or HVO, according to the partners.

The project has a 24-month duration and a budget of SEK 8,6 million ($827,000) with 50% funding by the Swedish program for Strategic Vehicle Research and Innovation, (FFI). Methanol producer Proman AG and the Methanol Institute are providing industry funding.

“We are pleased to support this important initiative, which will enable the use of methanol as a cleaner alternative fuel for a broad range of vessel classes. This project means that methanol could be used to affordably reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions across ports and inland waterways in the near-term,” Peter Schild, Managing Director Sustainability, Proman, said.

The pilot boat is expected to be ready for field trials in Q3 2023, a process which will go on for 9 to 12 months during which the dual-fuel kit will be tuned and optimised based on operational experience and from the results of the research and laboratory tests carried out by Chalmers University.

The SMA already operates a methanol-powered pilot boat equipped with a single fuel compression ignited methanol engine which completed successful trials in December 2021, a conversion supported by the FASTWATER consortium program.

The SMA has a target to remove fossil fuels from its fleet by 2045.

Methanol as a fuel for combustion engines provides a number of opportunities for engine optimisation. 

The key benefits of methanol include its density, which doesn’t affect the load capacity of ships, the fact that it is relatively safe to bunker, and that it has an attractive price. It is believed that methanol can reduce sulfur oxides by 99%, nitrogen oxides by 80%, and carbon emissions by 25% compared to the conventional fuel.

Ordering of around 40 methanol-powred ships over the past 12 months compared to just a handful in the year before shows quite a dramatic change in this space,

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