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Maersk unveils design of new methanol-fueled container ships

Maersk has introduced the design of its eight groundbreaking and industry-leading 16,000 TEU container vessels powered by carbon-neutral methanol. Unique to the industry, this design allows a 20% improved energy efficiency per transported container, when comparing to the industry average for vessels in this size.

The entire series is expected to save around one million tons of annual CO2 emissions, offering customers carbon-neutral transportation at scale on ocean trades.

The vessels will be 350 meters long, 53.5 meters wide and will look significantly different from what has been seen before for any larger container vessels.


The crew accommodation and bridge will be located at the bow to enable increased container capacity. The funnel will be in the aft, and only on one side of the vessel, thereby providing further space for cargo. This separation between accommodation and funnel will also improve efficiency when at the port.

The making of this took nearly five years, and all while crossing uncharted naval design territory. To enable this new design, several challenges had to be addressed.

Firstly, crew comfort had to be ensured with the accommodation placed in this more exposed location forward. Moreover, adequate hull strength was also a key parameter to safeguard, as the accommodation block normally works as a hull “stiffener” when placed further backwards.

New arrangements for lifeboats and navigational lights had to be developed, plus new cameras to support the captain’s view when navigating.

The series, built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, comes with an innovative dual-fuel engine setup that can operate on methanol and conventional low-sulfur fuel. With fuel capacity, the vessels will be able to complete an entire round-trip, for example Asia-Europe, on green methanol.

The first vessel is scheduled to be in operation at the beginning of 2024.


Thomas Pedersen

We see with this design that the added cost of methanol has finally made it viable to optimize ship design wrt aerodynamics as well. I have always wondered why they insisted on right-angle corners. I mean, I get that it's simpler and cheaper but even building them with sharp corners and then loosely attach 3/4 (270°) of a 3-4'' pipe section onto the corners would have helped.

The energy per shipped good was already low, yet they were (nor surprisingly) able to find an additional 20% savings compared to decades if not centuries of similar ship design (steel hull, propeller propulsion).

Btw did you know that if you drive your ICE car to pick up an iPhone at a store, you will have burned through more fossil fuel before the car has reached stable idle conditions than was consumed on the whole voyage from Asia by container vessel, per iPhone. About 1-2 ounces of fuel!


More and more ships with containers just because you can produce cheaply in Asia? It is interesting, however, that up to 92% CO2 can be shifted to Asia. If you order as goods in Made in Asia, the transport will be 8% - 10% CO2. The countries of the customer are relocating and supposedly sapping CO2, although only relocated. Mostly it is the Europeans who think that way! Everything ecological when the container lands in Europe. And if you are happy to be able to buy a smartphone (SP) in the store you should keep in mind that SP, computers, chips, expensive food, animals and perishable foodstuffs are always transported by plane. So if you buy an SP or a computer every 3 years and take the evil ICE car to the store, it is still more ecological than a train, ship or plane. Why is it logical since they go with friends to do the shopping in the mall and to eat and drink and to be happy. So why bring a SP or a computer with the parcel service. Ecology is certainly not about leasing new SP, chips and computers every month and bringing them back after 6 months. THANKS if you understand this and live and act accordingly, then you are really environmentally friendly!

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Today, Maritime shipping causes about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions – even more than airplanes. BY 2050 this will be worse. Maersk is making a good move designing large container ships to use Methanol and they are looking at sources of Bio-Methanol.
They still need to take one more step and it is feasible today without modification to these ships. Check out: “Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage” ( There is not enough waste material to supply all shipping with Bio-Metahnol. However, if the CO2 is captured and sent to the Methanol refinery, you have e-Methanol. Over 10 years the e-Methanol in the system plus additional Bio-Methanol to supplement losses would create a circular fuel economy.

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