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Wärtsilä 50DF engine successfully demonstrates capability to operate on ethane gas

Wärtsilä announced that its 50DF marine engine has been successfully tested and certified to run on ethane (LEG) fuel. The extensive and successful testing program was carried out by Wärtsilä in close collaboration with Evergas, an owner and operator of seaborne petrochemical and liquid gas transport vessels.

The capability to efficiently burn ethane boil-off gas as engine fuel significantly reduces the need of gas re-liquefaction during the voyage. This means that less power is needed for the cargo handling, thus providing a more efficient and environmentally sound overall system.

This enables Wärtsilä’s customers to meet the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Tier III regulations without need of secondary emissions cleaning while using either LNG or LEG as fuel. The engines have the capability to switch seamlessly between Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), Ethane (LEG), Light Fuel Oil (LFO) or Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) without the need for any modifications to hardware and with uninterrupted operation, thereby setting a new standard in fuel flexibility.

We are very pleased that the Wärtsilä engines will be capable of utilizing ethane boil-off gas as fuel. It increases our operational efficiency and improves flexibility in the bunkering of fuels. All in all it results in a significant reduction in operating costs, while also providing a minimal environmental footprint. It also enables us to offer our customers increased flexibility, which has a monetary value to them.

—Steffen Jacobsen, the CEO of Evergas

The Wärtsilä 50DF engine operates on the lean-burn principle. Lean combustion enables a high compression ratio, which in turn increases engine efficiency, reduces peak temperatures, and therefore also reduces NOx emissions.

Both the gas admission and pilot fuel injection are electronically controlled. The engine functions are controlled by an advanced automation system that allows optimal running conditions to be set, independent of the ambient conditions or fuel type.

50DF. Click to enlarge.


Henry Gibson

Ethane the mystery fuel is now mentioned, perhaps for the first time, in green car congress. Ethane can be converted much more easily into other hydrocarbon chemicals than methane and can be stored as a liquid under high pressure as well at "room temperature" "under 32.17 C.". The highest ocean surface temperature today is 31.7 C. At depth it can be much lower; so ocean water can keep liquid ethane super-cooled at most places in a pressure tank similar to what holds liquid CO2. One company proposed pressure tanks for CNG made of coils of steel pipe. These would work for room temperature, C2H6, ethane. Ethane may be too valuable a chemical for use as a fuel, but vast quantities of ethane are now being wasted as part of a shale gas flaring now going on in the US shale gas fields. Turbines can burn the flare gas and produce LNG or at least liquid ethane. Even I can invent an electrical distribution system that feeds the electricity generated from flare gas economically into use. The vast amounts of sulphur in ship liquid fuels should be put directly into the ocean water after combustion. It is an essential fertilizer for plants. Dakota Gasification captures sulphur with ammonia and sells it. ..HG..

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