To reduce emissions from marine engines, methanol is being tested as fuel for larger marine diesels. As noted by maritime consultancy company Dag Pike, these tests have had some success. Because of this, methanol is now being used as fuel for smaller craft. Tests are also being conducted on pilot boat engines. Together with Swedish research institutes, these developments are all happening under the GreenPilot scheme.
An alcohol-based fuel mainly produced from natural gas, the use of methanol as fuel for engines allows for reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, and particulates. In fact, the tests have shown up to a 90% reduction in emissions. Heavy gas emissions have disastrous effects on both the environment and human health . Methanol is a viable option in reducing the harmful effects of traditional fuel gases.
Furthermore, methanol is seen as possible fuel for boats and ships for the sensitive areas of the Baltic. The fact that it can be delivered by road tankers without the need for dedicated refuelling facilities is also an advantage.
As part of the GreenPilot trials, two 13 litre Scania diesel engines were used to operate on the fuel. The engines were initially converted for the purpose of sparking ignition with the fuel injected into the air intake of the engines. The final version of the engines now employ compression ignition akin to a diesel engine, making them more acceptable for the maritime commercial sector. Producing 400 kW, the methanol engine is in line with current emission standards.
Because of the success of the tests on pilot boat engines, the engines will be used for full scale trials in 2019. The said fuel will work for both variable speed engines and fixed speed units, making them fit for use in both pilot boats and generators.
The research and work on methanol fuel has been carried out by Gothenburg based company, ScandiNAOS AB. ScandiNAOS AB specializes in methanol fuel development, particularly as fuel for shipping. The GreenPilot project is also done in collaboration with the Swedish Maritime Technology Forum, the Swedish Transport Agency, and the Swedish Maritime Administration.
Though the research is mainly based in Sweden, these discoveries can definitely help the Philippine maritime sector as well, especially those receiving their maritime training in the Philippines. This information will be useful during their training and when they are actually working on ships around the world.