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Synthetic methanol – fuel of the future?

Monday, 04 Jun 2018

Partners in the MethaShip project, researching the use of methanol as a fuel for cruise ships and RoRo passenger ferries, have concluded that the synthetic formulation of this hydrocarbon offers significant potential in steps to meet the ambitious goals of the maritime industry’s climate protection initiatives.

Partners in the research consortium, which was led by the Research and Development Department at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, include Flensburger Schiffbau and Lloyd’s Register, with associate partners Caterpillar, Helm AG and MAN Diesel & Turbo.
Methyl alcohol, or methanol as it is more commonly known, has distinct advantages over liquefied natural gas. It is a short-chain, water-soluble and biodegradable hydrocarbon that is a clear fluid at ambient temperature, making it far simpler to handle and store. Synthetic methanol, produced in the Fischer-Tropsch process, offers particular opportunities although some more technical and financial work is still required, the researchers say.
"In the medium term, a breakthrough could be possble with methanol as a fuel for all ships if success is achieved in implementing statutuory framework conditions for the holistic evaluation of CO2 emissions," the companies said in a statement.
The MethaShip research project has been under way since September 2014.