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Chartwell secures £320k Innovate UK Smart Grant to develop methanol-fueled vessel design

Chartwell Marine has won a £320k Innovate UK Smart Grant. The grant will enable Chartwell and consortium partners—Boat Electric & Electronics and Engineered Marine Systems—to develop and test the feasibility of a market-first methanol-fuelled vessel design, with applications in the offshore wind, commercial workboat and leisure sectors.


Methanol fuel presents a significant opportunity to decarbonize in a maritime industry which is confronted with the debate over sustainable fuel alternatives, as it can be produced from biomass and can carry a near-zero carbon footprint. Whereas ammonia has sparked concerns about its toxicity to wildlife and pure hydrogen presents continued feasibility challenges, methanol can be stored safely and effectively in standard atmospheric conditions, and spills have little adverse effect on the local aquatic environment, the company suggests.

Though half as energy dense as diesel, methanol can take advantage of reforming technology alongside fuel-cells to create energy with low carbon emissions. Methanol reforming technologies are currently available commercially; however, they have been largely untested in commercial or leisure vessel design.

In applying the technology to a medium-sized vessel with Chartwell’s signature multi-hull design philosophy, the company is well-placed to use the learning enabled by the Smart Grant to open a path to methanol’s feasibility as a fuel in wider maritime contexts— namely offshore wind support, alongside the commercial workboat and leisure vessel industries.



I really like methanol as a fuel for smaller vessels, although for really big 'uns in spite of its toxicity ammonia may have advantages.

None of this is writing off batteries, where their performance envelope suits the application, but it is horses for courses, I would argue.

And in a marine environment, lithium batteries and water do not mix well, although of course fuel cells need some battery assistance.


This is a great idea and Chartwell Marine is a leader in developing hybrid vessels for the UK Offshore Wind market.
The Methanol fueled ships could include both IC and Fuel Cell designs. Rolls Royce/MTU is working on this, too.

Maersk said it would only be buying ships capable of running on zero-carbon fuels from now on: Green Methanol, Ammonia, and a new blend of Lignin and Methanol.

Thomas Pedersen

About batteries for shipping.

Most vehicles move 5 hours or less at nominal speed on a charge. This includes scooters, trains, buses, cars, etc.

Large vessels go 100 times as far. Imagine charging 25,000 MWh in a couple of hours at port.

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