Eastern Pacific Shipping, OCI & MAN partner to develop methanol & ammonia as marine fuels; retrofits and newbuilds
Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with OCI N.V. (OCI) and MAN Energy Solutions (MAN) to develop methanol and ammonia as marine fuels to support industry-wide decarbonization and environmental preservation efforts.
The partnership involves using select conventional vessels from EPS’ existing tanker fleet that use MAN engines to be retrofitted, allowing them to be powered by methanol and ammonia which will be supplied by OCI. Also, EPS will construct newbuild vessels with MAN engines powered by the same two alternative marine fuels. OCI intends to charter the first retrofitted vessel from EPS.
The announcement is in line with EPS’ agnostic approach to its alternative marine fuel program.
EPS is proud to partner with industry-leaders OCI and MAN with a shared vision to push our industry towards decarbonization and environmental preservation. As a leading tonnage provider, EPS has taken a firm stance that sustainability begins with accountability. This means we have a responsibility to implement emission-lowering solutions available today while simultaneously developing solutions for tomorrow. Converting our existing conventional fleet to burn methanol creates a unique opportunity to continue lowering our carbon footprint significantly and rapidly. In the meantime, developing ammonia-fueled conversion and newbuilding projects will help develop more mature zero-carbon solutions in the longer-term. We are excited about the next steps and to share our findings with the industry.—Cyril Ducau, EPS CEO
EPS said that the partnership is an example of different industry players with aligned values coming together to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The company also said that the MOU is an example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, as the technology to retrofit vessels to run on methanol exists today while using methanol and ammonia on newbuilds is still a few years away.
Methanol and ammonia are the fuels of the future and we are excited to continue to play a part in the transition to zero carbon through this partnership. The use of ammonia or methanol as a shipping fuel is particularly promising as these products are among the best-placed alternatives to help this sector decarbonize in a cost-effective way.
We are confident that, in addition to the exciting developments on new-builds, existing vessels can economically convert their engines to use our low-carbon products and help the industry meet its goals. We see this as starting with the adoption of grey/blue methanol and ammonia and then shifting to green as production costs come down, customer appetites move towards green and regulations continue to develop.
Our products are perfectly positioned to fuel the transition and we believe the push towards low-carbon fuels in the coming years will be met with the adoption of both methanol and ammonia as industry-standard fuels on a grey, blue and green basis. We are therefore pleased that we have signed this agreement with a leading tonnage provider in the shipping industry and the leading engine manufacturer, bringing together a comprehensive representation of the maritime value chain.—Ahmed El-Hoshy, Chief Executive Officer of OCI NV
Brian Østergaard Sørensen, Vice President and Head of R&D, Two-Stroke Business at MAN Energy Solutions, said that MAN has already introduced a methanol-burning two-stroke engine, while it expects to deliver the first ammonia-fueled engine in 2024.
For us, the path to decarbonizing the maritime industry starts with fuel decarbonization. Happily, the flexibility of the ME-C engine enables us to retrofit the existing fleet into methanol-fueled vessels that have a significantly reduced environmental impact. We look forward to moving with our industry partners towards these sustainable goals.—Jens Seeberg, Head of Retrofit & Upgrade at MAN PrimeServ Denmark
The MAN ME-C two-stroke is the basis for the MAN B&W LGIM engine—the methanol-burning version of its dual-fuel solution for liquid injection of fuels, the ME-LGI engine. For the LGIM-engine, methanol as a drop-in fuel is readily achieved by blending increasing amounts of green or blue methanol with grey methanol. A net carbon-neutral solution that may co-evolve with an increasing production of green or blue methanol.
The technology to retrofit a vessel to accept methanol as a fuel is available today and the intention is for OCI to charter the first retrofitted methanol-fueled vessel operated by EPS using already in-service MAN engines and technology in the next two years.
MAN’s methanol-fueled ME-LGIM engine inherits well-known aspects and features of the standard MAN B&W two-stroke diesel engine. The LGI concept engine is based on the conventional, electronically controlled ME-C engine with dual-fuel injection integrated as add-on parts.
Components and pipes added to each cylinder to enable methanol fuel. Source: MAN
Additional components for methanol combustion include:
LGI fuel booster injection valves for injection of methanol (FBIV-M) into the combustion chamber around the top dead center (TDC);
Hydraulic control systems to control the LGI fuel booster valve operation;
Sealing oil supply unit mounted on the engine to ensure that no methanol leakage occurs in the moving parts of the methanol injection system;
Double-walled piping to distribute methanol to the individual cylinders;
Draining and purging system for quick and reliable removal of methanol from the engine;
In addition to the engine control system (ECS), a safety system monitors the methanol injection and combustion, and ensures that the engine reverts to diesel oil operation in case of alarms;
Fuel valve train (FVT) provides a block-and-bleed function between the fuel supply system and the engine; and
Fully automated methanol supply system with an embedded purge system.
The FBIV is a batch-injector, combining a hydraulically actuated plunger pump with a spring-held injection needle valve that opens at a given fuel pressure. The pump functionality of the FBIV uses hydraulic pressure to increase the methanol pressure to the required injection pressure of approximately 600 bar.
Cross-section (right) showing the latest FBIV-M design and points of interest. Source: MAN
A suction valve (check valve) ensures filling of the pump chamber after each stroke. The methanol supply pressure lies within 8 to 10 bar. A small pilot injection from the diesel fuel system ignites the methanol.