Flexibility and patience call at Gas Fuelled Ships

Chairman Martin Kroeger of VDR (left), Reeta Kaila of Wärtsilä, Nina Savjoki of Deltamarin, Joacim Westerlund of Viking Line and Gerd Wuersig of DNV GL close the conference with a look at future fuels Chairman Martin Kroeger of VDR (left), Reeta Kaila of Wärtsilä, Nina Savjoki of Deltamarin, Joacim Westerlund of Viking Line and Gerd Wuersig of DNV GL close the conference with a look at future fuels

A diverse, multi-fuel scenario for shipping and the future fuel mix were discussed at the Gas Fuelled Ships conference.

After highlighting many of the pioneering ship projects deploying LNG fuel on the first day, the second and third days of the event - held on 13-15 November on Viking Line cruise ferry Mariella – drilled deeper into the practicalities of dealing with LNG and provided a look at other alternative fuel technologies.

Bunkering infrastructure for LNG is proliferating, and day two hosted presentations from port representatives including the Port of Tallinn and the Baltic Ports Organisation, as well as bunker suppliers and technologists with an array of innovative solutions. However, the need for further standardisation in bunkering standards and safety procedures was made clear in several discussions.

Perhaps most notably, Steve Ward of Trelleborg Marine Systems pointed out the inconsistent application of ship-to-shore emergency shutdown links. Different bunker suppliers use different configurations of the five-pin connector standard, he noted, while other technology providers recommending even more diverse connector options.

The event audience was abuzz with the recent news of containership operator CMA CGM’s big LNG order, and a presentation from Emmanuel Rousseau of GTT’s LNG as fuel division outlined some of the considerations for designing the biggest fuel gas tanks ever ordered. The 18,600m3 tanks will be integrated into the hull, customised to minimise sloshing and likely be connected to a dual-fuel auxiliary boiler – to satisfy regulations on the handling of boil-off gas.

LONG-TERM VIABILITY

A panel assessing the long-term viability of LNG resulted in a fruitful dialogue between class society DNV GL, major marine equipment supplier Alfa Laval and SEA\LNG – the association promoting the commercial advantage of gas as a marine fuel. Gerd Wuersig of DNV GL summed up: “There will be LNG as long as there is fossil fuel.” The question increasingly on the industry’s mind is what will happen after that?

One potential solution being developed from different angles is the use of fuel cells. Immediately before Gas Fuelled Ships, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines had announced that it was beginning its pilot project into the technology. At the event, representatives from Meyer Werft, Viking Line and fuel cell developer Serenergy presented the results of the first Pa-X-ell research project, as part of which a fuel cell system was installed on the Mariella. Delegates later had the chance to visit the fuel cell installation onboard.

The final session, a panel discussion skilfully managed by conference day chairman and German Shipowners’ Association managing director Martin Kroeger, looked even further into the future fuel scenario. Nina Savjoki of Deltamarin advised ship owners to equip their vessels to accommodate a variety of propulsion options – for example using battery installations and power take in/out arrangements. And Gerd Wuersig concluded with a note of patience. Regulation must be in place before the widespread uptake of alternative fuels

“It is no coincidence that first major LNG cruise orders came shortly after the IMO adopted the IGF Code,” he said. “The code is still being developed for methanol and fuel cells, but explicitly excludes development of hydrogen and LPG storage. These fuels will emerge but we need to have a realistic timescale.”

The conference featured technical visits hosted by Viking Line and sponsored by Wärtsilä – to the bridge, the engine room and the fuel cell installation. A gala dinner was hosted by GE Marine, while the conference overall was supported by gold sponsor DNV GL.

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