WinGD slashes methane slip with its next-generation X-DF 2.0 dual-fuel engine technology

Engine developer WinGD has unveiled a new technology designed to slash methane emissions and cut fuel consumption in its X-DF dual-fuel engines.

Image by Navingo

The launch of Intelligent Control by Exhaust Recycling (iCER) is the first development to be introduced as part of X-DF2.0, WinGD’s second-generation dual-fuel engine platform.

The iCER system delivers enhanced combustion control through the use of inert gas. The result is a reduction in methane slip emissions of up to 50% when using LNG and a significant reduction of fuel consumption, of 3% in gas mode and 5% in diesel mode.

Image credit: WinGD

iCER reduces the reactivity of gas/air-mixture by replacing oxygen in suction air with carbon dioxide, improves thermodynamic behaviour of the X-DF engines in terms of BSGC, firing pressure fluctuations, emissions and allows an increase of BMEP.

It consists of a low-pressure exhaust recycling path, including an efficient cascade exhaust gas cooler (CEC), with negligible contamination of cooling water due to clean gas fuel and combustion, the engine manufacturer said during an online press event held today.

Image credit: WinGD

“By adjusting the recirculation rate of inert gas and controlling parameters like fuel admission and ignition timing, we can increase compression ratios for greater efficiency,” said Volkmar Galke, WinGD Global Director of Sales.

“The result is optimized combustion through closed-loop control regardless of ambient conditions and load.”

Methane slip is a key concern of many doubters of LNG as fuel, which has a major potential to be the bridging fuel in the next 20 years as the advancement of zero-emission fuels picks up pace.

It is an unavoidable occurrence in an Otto-cycle engine because there is no combustion or chemical reaction that takes place in order to prevent the slip from happening. A methane slip is basically the fuel that remains in the exhaust system and is blown out through the exhaust valve.

The idea behind the iCER technology and cutting the methane slip was to capture the methane and try to burn it again, recycle it, through recirculation.

As explained by Dominik Schneiter, Vice President of Research and Development at WinGD, iCER is an exhaust recirculation system developed in cooperation with Alfa Laval, which gives the methane a second chance to burn, allowing also for engine performance optimization.

WinGD said that iCER will be available for all new X-DF engines. It is currently completing trials at one of WinGD’s dedicated test engine facilities – the final step in a two-year testing programme. The company is also finalising plans for a pilot installation.

The long road to 2050

According to Galke, the obvious takers of the new technology would be from the LNG shipping sector, where the company holds the largest market share.

Due to the ongoing situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, ordering of new LNG carriers has been slow, however, it is expected that the newbuilding activity would pick up once the pandemic is over.

Next in line are expected to be container vessel operators which are expressing an ever-growing interest in LNG as marine fuel, followed by tanker operators.

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Commenting on the industry’s road to decarbonizing shipping, Galke said it was not up to engine manufacturers to decide what would be the fuel of the future, but upon the shipowners.

The role of engine manufacturers is to make the technology to burn the X fuel of the future available in line with shipowners’ preferences.

Schneiter added that the road to 2050 and achieving the emission reduction targets would require an industry-wide collaboration effort in selecting the most viable fuels and making them available.

“WinGD has prepared to adapt our technology for sustainable fuels to come,” he said, noting that the company was testing five engine types and investigating combustion properties of various individual fuels to find a solution quickly.

The company is using this insight for adapting its engines to run on ethanol and methanol.

In the upcoming 20 years, LNG is viewed as the bridging fuel. As explained by Schneiter, it can already be mixed with biomethane, liquefied biogas (LBG) or synthetic methane on X-DF engines.

This has already been done with some X-DF engines already in service and there have been no issues in the ships’ operation, he said.

Commenting on other synthetic fuels such as ethanol, methanol, hydrogen and ammonia, he pointed out that the existing X-DF engine could be adapted to the best burning principle of each fuel pretty easily.

“The journey to 2050 needs all experts to come together and WinGD is definitely open to embrace this journey and collaborate with many stakeholders as possible.”