MOL tests low-speed methanol engine

Demonstrating the first commercially built MAN liquid-gas injection engine running on methanol at Mitsui's Tamano works Demonstrating the first commercially built MAN liquid-gas injection engine running on methanol at Mitsui's Tamano works

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has reported that the first low-speed engine running on methanol, built by MAN Diesel & Turbo licensee Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co, has met expectations during testing at Mitsui’s factory in Tamano.

The dual-fuel engine will be installed on one of up to three methanol carriers ordered by MOL from Minaminippon Shipbuilding Co, to be delivered next year. As reported, MAN had already demonstrated its methanol dual-fuel engine in March. The Mitsui demonstration was the first using a commercially built 7S50ME-B9.3-LGI engine.

The study to evaluate the safety of the engine and methanol supply system was supported by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism under its programme supporting the development of new environmental marine technology. It was also chosen as a joint research project by ClassNK.

Ole Grøne, senior vice president – low speed promotion & sales at MAN Diesel & Turbo said: “The interest in our ME-LGI engine confirms this dual-fuel, low-speed trend and will offer even more alternatives to heavy fuel oil, which – apart from methanol – will include LPG, dimethyl ether (DME), and (bio-) ethanol as well as several other low-sulphur, low-flashpoint fuels.”

“We welcome our partners’ interest in our technology and acknowledge their taking the lead in proving the ME-LGI concept. We are confident that their faith will be rewarded in the immediate future.”

In a statement MOL said: “Emissions of CO2 and NOx are significantly less when burning methanol rather than fuel oil. Thus, methanol is an important fuel that does not include SOx and can replace fuel oil and thereby place fewer burdens on the environment.

“Besides using methanol to drive the main engine, the new vessel will be one of the first to install the ballast water treatment system and energy saving devices fitted in front and behind the propellers to help improve fuel efficiency.”

The demonstration in front of 60 guests involved four stages: Switching from fuel oil to methanol; running at between 50-75% load on methanol fuel; running under varied load on methanol; and switching back to running on fuel oil.

Minaminippon was among guests at the first demonstration of MAN’s methanol-fuelled engine in March. MAN at the time reported that it already had seven orders for such engines – from Mitsui OSK Lines, Marinvest and Westfal-Larsen.

The vessels will not be the first methanol-powered ships in operation. As reported, the Stena Germanica has recently completed its conversion to methanol-burning Wartsila 6ZAL40S dual-fuel medium-speed engines.

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