Lloyd’s Register (LR) has awarded approval in principle (AiP) to SRC Group for a new methanol storage retrofit system. The fuel has been identified as one of the frontrunners for existing ships as their owners seek to decarbonise their operations by key dates, including 2030 and beyond.
IMO targets set goals of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 2030 and 70% by 2040, compared with 2008 levels. But some of the zero-carbon fuels that are currently under development are still years away from being available commercially, and the related engine technologies are also at early stages of development.
However, according to recent Clarkson figures, 14% of tonnage on order is ‘methanol-capable’ compared with 22% for LNG. The research firm believes that 1,200 ships could be powered by methanol by the end of this decade.
Since green methanol has only half of the energy density of heavy fuel oil, fuel storage systems will have to have twice the capacity to provide the same fuel endurance. On board existing ships, this is a major issue, especially since low flashpoint fuel tanks conventionally require cofferdams.
However, the breakthough comes with the use of Sandwich Plate System (SPS) technology for fuel tank walls. The new Methanol Superstorage system does away with the need for cofferdams and can boost fuel cargo volumes by up to 85%. Furthermore, the new tank storage system can be retrofitted with minimal impact on a ship’s general arrangement.
SRC Group CEO, Hannes Lilp, said: “Due to long-established use in other industries, availability and performance, methanol is the alternative marine fuel offering the strongest potential to reduce ship greenhouse gases at pace. Methanol Superstorage reinvents methanol storage using the proven SPS Technology system. Instead of a cofferdam which extends at least to 600mm, the solution uses a 25mm thick SPS barrier to protect the tank from fire and as a triple barrier against leakage.”
Lilp explained that SRC Group, an engineering, procurement, construction, and installation (EPCI) company, developed Methanol Superstorage to ensure that existing ships play a full part in the energy transition. AiP for a supporting design prepares for wider scrutiny of a concept which, subject to statutory approval, would be decisive in making methanol a mainstream fuel for existing ships.
The SPS Technology Sandwich Plate System is a permanent, A60 fire rating certified structural composite, used in maritime and offshore applications for over two decades and approved by all major IACS class societies across a range of applications.
The AiP from LR relates specifically to ships outlined in Part G of SOLAS Ch. II-1. SRC would deliver EPCI services, fully integrating the new solution “from the bunkering station to the high-pressure pump,” said Lilp.