Green shipping: New supply system for methanol improves safety and saves energy  

Danish company Eltronic FuelTech is now the first in the industry to offer equipment for supplying fuel from tanks to engines on methanol-powered ships, saving shipping companies both money as well as energy while enhancing safety.
Green shipping: New supply system for methanol improves safety and saves energy  
Methanol powered ship. Courtesy of Eltronic FuelTech.

The naming of Laura Mærsk, A.P. Moller-Maersk’s first container ship that can sail on green methanol, marked the start of more sustainable shipping. In the wake of this, the Danish engineering company Eltronic FuelTech has now launched a new supply system – a so-called Low-flashpoint Fuel Supply system (LFSS) – for this particular vessel.

Most green methanol is produced from the gasification of biomass, which initially produces syngas which is then converted into green methanol. Another method of producing it involves combining hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and a catalyst under high heat and pressure. In order to be considered green methanol, this process has to be conducted using renewable electricity, while the carbon dioxide has to be a product of carbon capture and storage, direct air capture or biomass of recent origin.

In launching this new supply system, players in the shipping industry can now have an integrated fuel supply system from the fuel tank to the engine comprising a single supply system and fuel valve train which improves safety, cuts costs and saves energy.

There are savings associated with the logistics, as one and the same container can be used for spare parts for the entire system, and fewer repair technicians will be required in connection with maintenance.

“Embracing green methanol as a fuel has been increasing markedly in recent years, and with the new LFSS system, we can make a significant contribution to the green transition of the shipping industry” said Louise Andreasen, CEO at Eltronic FuelTech. “In the past, several suppliers were required to put together a complete fuel supply system all the way from the fuel tank to the engine, but the fact that we can now supply the entire system brings multiple benefits. It’s a huge advantage for customers that it’s now available as a combined package so they no longer have to maintain the interfaces between two different systems. At the same time, when we deliver a combined solution, we can guarantee the safety of the entire system.”

While most other supply systems on the market use two pumps to pump the methanol around, Eltronic FuelTech has managed to create an LFSS with only one pump, thereby saving considerable energy. In addition, it is now possible to adjust the pump depending on the engine load, so that only the right amount of methanol is supplied to the engine, something which has not been possible until now.

“This means that if a ship is sailing slowly, the pump automatically adjusts to the load, so that it only runs at 60 percent of full power for example” added Ms Andreasen. “With other systems, unnecessarily large quantities of methanol are pumped around the system, which clearly affects electricity consumption, especially on large ships. With the biggest engines on container ships, for example, the pumps usually use more than 100,000 kWh a year pumping the methanol from the fuel tanks to the engine. With our new supply system, we expect to be able to cut consumption by up to 40 percent.”

In addition to developing systems for a ship’s main engines, Eltronic FuelTech has also developed a compact combined system to supply the ship’s auxiliary engines with fuel from the tanks.

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