Rolls-Royce Power Systems is currently developing methanol-fuelled variants of its high-speed four-stroke engines.

The Friedrichshafen-headquartered business unit announced that the methanol-fuelled engines would be added to the business unit’s portfolio for use in commercial ships and yachts “as soon as possible”.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems notes methanol is set to play an important role in efforts to make shipping more climate-friendly and ultimately climate-neutral.

Source: Rolls-Royce Power Systems

Rolls-Royce Power Systems notes methanol is set to play an important role in efforts to make shipping more climate-friendly and ultimately climate-neutral.

The fuel has a number of advantages from a climate perspective, including its suitability for production as an e-fuel. The fuel’s energy density and physical characteristics at ambient temperatures also make it an attractive alternative, particularly as existing infrastructure can continue to be used in many cases. Methanol tanks can be flexibly arranged in the ship and require significantly lower safety measures compared to hydrogen or ammonia. Besides the safety aspects and the lower complexity, the lower investment costs for users are a further upside of the methanol tank system.

From a combustion perspective, methanol can be used in a pure methanol engine with significantly reduced nitrogen oxide emissions, thus eliminating the need for complex SCR exhaust gas aftertreatment. Rolls-Royce Power Systems also noted that methanol is not only suitable for use both Diesel cycle and Otto cycle combustion engines, but can also be ysed with emission-free fuel cells. 

Denise Kurtulus, Vice President Global Marine at Rolls-Royce Power Systems, said: “With the new development of mtu methanol engines, we want to lead the way as pioneers in the marine industry. We are clearly committed to methanol as a power source for green shipping and want to set standards and create planning security for our customers. We urgently need to create concrete solutions together to achieve the climate targets.”

Rolls-Royce is pioneering marine applications with sustainable solutions from the bridge to the propeller. The company will release the new generation of its mtu Series 2000 and 4000 engine ranges for use with sustainable fuels such as synthetic diesel (second generation biofuels or e-diesel) from 2023, enabling climate-neutral operation in almost all applications. In addition to the use of sustainable fuels, the company is also building on new technologies such as CO2-free fuel cell systems. Smart-ship solutions that enable the semi- and fully autonomous operation of ships are also expected to help reduce CO2 emissions.