Pilot Methanol

The project is made up of three packages:

  1. research on the use of methanol as marine fuel,

  2. a pilot project to convert and run the Stena Germanica ferry on methanol including the development of the relevant port/side infrastructure and the relevant safety and security requirements for the bunkering of methanol (namely, the proposed Action), and

  3. the deployment of the technology to another 24 ships in the Stena Line fleet that operate in the Baltic and North Sea. 

The first package of the project involving extensive applied and innovative research is already well advanced. Indeed, Stena has already been looking at methanol as a potential fuel for marine propulsion for over three years. Since 2009, Stena together with Wärtsilä and other project partners, have invested heavily in research projects to explore the feasibility of converting an existing engine in order to run on methanol.

They have been involved in two main projects: the EffShip1 project which started in 2009 (supported by the Swedish Innovation Agency, Vinnova) and the SPIRETH2 demonstration project which started in 2012 (supported by the Swedish Energy Agency, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic Investment Bank and the Danish Maritime Fund). The overall budgets of EffShip and SPIRETH have been EUR 2.1 million and EUR 3.7 million, respectively.

In short, the EffShip project is based on the vision of a sustainable and successful maritime transport industry, which is energy efficient and bears a minimal impact on the environment. It started in December 2009 and it will end in March 2013. The project will result in solutions with respect to maritime fuels, energy efficiency and emission reduction technologies to meet the EU’s energy and climate goals. The project evaluates non-oil-based fuels, methanol and DME, and proposes a complete ship design including functional design of the best technologies. The project results, which confirm that methanol can be used cost-effectively, safely and efficiently on ships’ engines (after conversion) to meet sulphur requirements, will be disseminated and exploited through the nine partners of the project consortium. 

The SPIRETH demonstration project builds on the findings of the EffShip project and is still ongoing until the end of 2013. The objective is twofold;

Firstly, to verify the ability to operate a marine engine and associated systems on non-oil based fuels such as methanol by testing these under laboratory conditions. This phase is currently ongoing.

Secondly, to test the technology in a real case scenario by powering two auxiliary diesel engines onboard the Stena Scanrail with methanol. This is phase started in December 2012. One of the important reasons for this test is to examine the performance of the equipment and contribute evidence for the development of the rules and regulations for low-flashpoint fuels. This is done in close cooperation with authorities and classification societies.

Following from this, support is also provided to the development of the “International Code of safety for ships using gases or other low/flashpoint fuels” (IGF code) in the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Sweden submitted a proposal for regulations to address methanol as a bunker fuel to the Bulk Liquid and Gases IMO Sub/committee (BLG 17) meeting in London in February 2013. At this meeting it was decided that methanol would be included in the first draft of the IGF Code, which is now being dealt with in the responsible correspondence group.

Based on the above mentioned research, which forms the first step in the project, Stena and the project partners are ready to deploy the research and concretely explore the potential of methanol within the proposed Action: the pilot project to convert and run the Stena Germanica ferry on methanol including the development of the relevant port-side infrastructure and the relevant safety and security requirements for the bunkering of methanol.

The last phase of the project will consist in the conversion of 24 Stena Line vessels to run on methanol as a marine fuel by 2018, the involvement and adaptations of another 19 European ports in the Baltic and North Sea areas and development of methanol bunkering regulations by the competent authorities.