Methanol is a safe, cost-effective, globally available marine fuel. With the growing demand for cleaner marine fuel, methanol is an alternative fuel for ships that helps the shipping industry meet increasingly strict emissions regulations. Methanol significantly reduces emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter, and with the ability to be produced from renewable sources, offers a pathway to meeting future emissions regulations without further shipowner investment.
Methanol is available worldwide through existing global infrastructure. The cost to build new and convert existing vessels to run on methanol is significantly less than alternate fuel conversions.
In 2016, Waterfront Shipping Ltd., Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., Marinvest/Skagerack Invest, and Westfal-Larsen Management welcomed the world’s first seven new innovative, clean-burning, fuel-efficient ocean-going vessels to the sea. These seven 50,000 dead weight tonne vessels are built with the first-of-its kind MAN B&W ME-LGI 2-stroke dual fuel engine that can run on methanol, fuel oil, marine diesel oil, or gas oil. Another four methanol dual-fuel vessels joined the fleet in 2019 and another eight were ordered in 2020. Approximately 60 per cent of Waterfront Shipping’s vessel fleet will be equipped with methanol fuel technology by 2023. Early investments in this innovation are now scaling across the shipping industry and several other companies have also begun to use or are currently commissioning their own methanol-powered vessels.
The Benefits of Methanol Marine Fuel
Methanol is a cleaner-burning fuel that produces fewer smog-causing emissions than conventional fuels — such as SOx, NOx and particulate matter. It can help ships meet environmental fuel regulations and improve air quality and related human health issues. Methanol marine fuel complies with the most stringent regulations in Emission Control Areas and would comply with the most stringent emissions regulations currently being considered.
Methanol is a cost-effective alternative marine fuel in terms of the fuel itself, the dual fuel engine and the shoreside storage and bunkering infrastructure. The cost to convert vessels to run on methanol is significantly less than other alternative fuel conversions with no need for expensive exhaust gas aftertreatment and, as a liquid fuel, only minor modifications are needed for existing storage and bunkering infrastructure to handle methanol.
Methanol is one of the top five chemical commodities shipped around the world each year. Unlike some alternative fuels, it only requires minor modifications to existing terminal infrastructure and is already available for bunkering at over 88 of the world's top 100 ports.
Long history of safe handling
For over 100 years, methanol has been shipped globally, handled and used in a variety of applications. Risk classification societies and the International Maritime Organization have developed standards and guidelines for methanol as a marine fuel.
Methanol is a clear, colourless liquid that quickly dissolves in water and biodegrades rapidly. The environmental effects of a large methanol spill would be much lower than those from an equivalent oil spill.
Made from various sources including renewables
Methanol is most commonly produced on a commercial scale from natural gas. It can also be produced from renewable sources such as biomass and recycled carbon dioxide and anything that is, or ever was, a plant! These renewable methanol sources provide a pathway to compliance with the IMO's 2050 carbon emissions targets, without further shipowner investment.