Thetius study highlights emissions reduction advantages of methane to hydrogen fuel cell technology

An independent study conducted by maritime research house Thetius has revealed that methanol to hydrogen generator technology, developed by renewable energy technology pioneer e1 Marine, can significantly reduce EPA-regulated emissions by up to 99 percent when using grey methanol when compared with conventional diesel engines for inland waterway vessels.
Thetius study highlights emissions reduction advantages of methane to hydrogen fuel cell technology
Robert Schluter, Managing Director of e1 Marine

The technology can also reduce GHG emissions by up to 85 percent when using green methanol as feedstock in the same application.

The international maritime industry is under pressure to meet 2030 and 2050 International Maritime Organisation (IMO) emissions goals, as well as local and global emissions rules, including those set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European Union (EU).

e1 Marine’s methanol to hydrogen generator technology makes it possible to convert methanol to fuel-cell grade hydrogen onboard a vessel. This provides a power source for hydrogen fuel cells and electric batteries, which can be used for primary propulsion.

In the report, ‘Towards Zero’, Thetius’ analysis used 50,000 hours of operating data from eight inland diesel pushboats (workboats) in the USA to develop a cumulative load profile for comparison, which was underpinned by science developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The results of the modeling showed significant potential emissions (EPA and GHG) reduction versus conventional diesel engines for vessel operators who deploy methanol to hydrogen fuel cell power solutions. The conclusions indicated were:

 ‘Near Zero’ harmful emissions – achieving a 99 percent reduction of EPA-regulated emissions, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), hydrocarbons (HC), and carbon monoxide (CO) based on using readily available grey methanol.

Meaningful improvement on GHG emissions – up to 27 percent fewer GHG emissions when operating on readily available grey methanol.

Towards Zero GHG – an 85 percent GHG emissions reduction is possible when using 100 percent green methanol, which is starting to become available in marine quantities. Substantial GHG emissions can still be made by using a blend of grey and green methanol.

e1 Marine’s solution provides clear advantages of future-proofing inland waterways, ports, and short sea vessels against current and anticipated increasingly robust GHG and local pollutant regulation. It also enables ocean-going vessel operators an option to utilize the onboard methanol to hydrogen generator technology while in port amid more stringent port emissions rules.

“As the shipping industry faces a plethora of regulations that will continue to ratchet up in terms of levels of compliance, it is vital to take a holistic approach to plan for next-gen propulsion” said Robert Schluter, Managing Director, e1 Marine. “For smaller vessel’s main propulsion and ocean-going vessels auxiliary engines, the Thetius findings – based on a large amount of operating data, enabling a reasonable degree of accuracy - underline the capacity of e1 Marine’s methanol to hydrogen generator technology to almost eradicate local pollutant concerns and offer a clear pathway to 2030 and 2050 GHG emission compliance. Renewable alternatives, such as hydrogen, are gaining traction. However, pure hydrogen faces challenges in transportation and storage, hindering its implementation for direct fuel usage. e1 Marine’s technology fosters sustainable and eco-friendly marine operations that negate these challenges.”

From 1 January 2030, a ship (being any containership and any passenger ship (over 5,000 GT) not otherwise exempted under the legislation) moored at berth for two hours or longer in an EU port shall be required to connect to an on-shore power supply (OPS) (or alternative, approved zero-emission technology).

In the United States, port emissions are managed by local authorities, with policies that vary from state to state. For example, in 2021, California’s State Office of Administrative Law tightened emissions regulations defined by the Control Measure for Ocean-Going Vessels at Berth, which includes limits on GHGs and adds shore power mandates.

“Our model suggests that the e1 Marine’s methanol to hydrogen generators potentially produce 10-27 percent fewer GHG emissions than conventional diesel ICEs operating on grey methanol” added Nick Chubb, CEO, Thetius. “Moreover, a blend of green and grey methanol can achieve substantial reductions, with 85 percent GHG emissions reduction possible when using green methanol. Therefore, the initial results are promising and show the clear advantages methanol to hydrogen generator technology can bring.”

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