The European Union (EU) is to provide EUR 7 million to support the Green Ray project, a collaborative venture to cut methane slip from LNG-fuelled engines. The consortium will be coordinated by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and includes members Chantiers de l’Atlantique, CMA CGM, DNV, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, MSC Cruises Management, Revolve Water, Shell, and Wärtsilä.
The goal of the project is to develop on-engine technologies for both two- and four-stroke, low-pressure, dual-fuel engines by way of aftertreatment. The partners aim to achieve a high level of technology readiness, according to a statement, with pilot installations on two new ships and a third existing vessel.
Wärtsilä will focus on technology for low-pressure, four-stroke engines and will target the largest engines used today on board cruise ships, ferries, and gas carriers. It will also develop technology for two-stroke engines, based on a patented LNG injection system, suitable for ships including tankers and container ships.
Although the uptake of LNG as a marine fuel is accelerating, methane slip is a major concern because it is many more times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. However, LNG is far more widely available than other low-carbon fuels and, as a clean hydrocarbon, it has significant emission and climate benefits compared with conventional heavy fuels used by most commercial ships today.
VTT Principal Scientist, Kati Lehtoranta, said: “Methane slip is an important factor in shipowners’ decisions about whether to use LNG fuel. With these promising technologies, we aim to reduce the slip contributing directly to reduction of the total greenhouse gas emissions.”
Wärtsilä Marine Power’s Sebastian Bleuanus, general manager, Research Coordination & Funding, commented: “This research will allow us to build on the continuous improvements made in reducing methane slip from engines over the last 20 years. Taking these solutions for newbuilds and retrofits to near commercial readiness will be an important step for the long-term viability of LNG as a marine fuel.”
Alexander Boekhorst, vice president Gas Processing and Conversion Technology at Shell, explained that the energy major’s climate ambition to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 requires a range of avenues to be explored across the LNG value chain. “We are working to improve the value proposition of LNG through dedicated technology research, and we are keen to develop potential solutions to minimise methane slip at such a relevant project as Green Ray,” he said.
Shell has developed its own proprietary methane abatement catalyst system that has been laboratory tested and scaled up as a demonstrator in the field. It has proved successful in cutting methane slip by more than 90%.