Methanol as Marine Fuel
In 2018, Waterfront Shipping won Lloyd’s List 2018 Best Fuel Solution Award in recognition of its dual-fuel technology.
Waterfront Shipping, a wholly owned subsidiary of Methanex that operates the world’s largest methanol ocean tanker fleet, was honoured to receive the Lloyd’s List Americas Award for Best Fuel Solution. This award was given in recognition of the fuel efficiency and environmental performance achieved by the company’s seven ships with dual-fuel technology, which allows them to run on methanol. Waterfront’s ships have accumulated over 50,000 operating hours on methanol to date. When used as a marine fuel instead of heavy fuel oil, methanol significantly reduces emissions of sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
Finding new fuel solutions is becoming increasingly important. In January 2020, new regulations by the International Marine Organization (IMO) will take effect, requiring all ocean-going vessels to lower sulphur oxide emissions. This regulatory change has created a growing market for methanol and other clean-burning fuels because they meet the new IMO standards and can replace marine fuels that do not. Methanex and Waterfront Shipping are playing a leading role in establishing methanol as a beneficial option for the marine sector.
A methanol-fueled fishing vessel pilot was successfully completed in China, demonstrating the improved performance of diesel/methanol technology.
In recent years, Methanex has been partnering in a pilot demonstration project in Jiangsu province involving the conversion of a fishing administration vessel to run on methanol.
In 2018, the project was reviewed by a panel of experts from the Marine Safety Administration (MSA) of the Ministry of Transport (MOT). The MSA concluded that, compared to diesel, the diesel/methanol compound combustion (DMCC) technology used in the pilot demonstrated better engine performance, lower emissions, and competitive fuel costs. Furthermore, the MSA panel determined that the DMCC technology is an innovative and feasible new application for use on commercial vessels in China.
The pilot began in 2017 as a partnership between MSA/MOT, Tianjin University in China, and Methanex. It went through an extensive review process that included engine and emissions testing, a safety review, and a sea trial, all to demonstrate the vessel’s operation in a real-world environment.
Methanex will continue working closely with our partners to support commercialization by helping with the development of relevant regulations, safety guidelines, and infrastructure development.
We’ve been partnering with the Methanol Institute to support the inclusion of methanol in IMO codes. In 2018, the IMO endorsed draft guidelines for using methanol as a marine fuel.
Methanex has been collaborating with the Methanol Institute and other partners to support inclusion of methanol (a low-flashpoint fuel) in the IMO Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or Other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code).
In 2018, the IMO Marine Safety Committee endorsed draft methanol guidelines for using methanol as a marine fuel. Over the next year, further refinements will be made. We expect these guidelines to be formalized by 2020.
Currently, when methanol fuel systems are installed in ships, the design needs to be demonstrated on a case-by-case basis to meet the IGF Code’s general requirements. Once approved, the guidelines will make commercializing methanol-fueled vessels more straightforward for the marine sector.