MI Marine Fuel Technology Delegation Visits Wärtsilä

IMG_2279Trieste, Italy – Ben Iosefa, Director for Energy Applications at Methanex, Chairman of MI’s Global Fuel Blending Committee, and Vice Chairman of MI’s Board of Directors, led an Institute business mission to Trieste, Italy on Monday and Tuesday to witness firsthand new developments in methanol marine fuel technology.

The delegation, comprised of 12 executives and MI staff, included representatives from member companies Ecofuel, Methanex, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical (MGC), Mitsubishi International Corp., PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG), Qatar Fuel Additives Co. (QAFAC),  and Salalah Methanol Company.  The group visited the Trieste offices and factory of Helsinki-headquartered Wärtsilä, to learn about their development of a methanol-diesel engine for Swedish ship owner Stena.

Wärtsilä is a global leader in complete lifecycle power solutions for the marine and energy markets. The company is celebrating its 180th anniversary this year.  In 2013, Wärtsilä’s net sales totaled EUR 4.7 billion with approximately 18,700 employees. The company has operations in more than 200 locations in nearly 70 countries around the world.

As the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has announced restrictions on the amount of sulfur dioxide (SOx) and nitrous oxide (NOx) that can be emitted from ships (i.e., limits of 0.5% SOx emissions in ships globally from 2020 onwards) – including through the Sulfur Emission Control Areas (SECA) in northern Europe, the marine industry has been looking at various options to replace bunker fuel which could meet these emissions targets.  It is believed that there is the potential for 43 million tons of methanol equivalent that could be used in the SECA after January 1, 2015.

Among these options, fuel oil is approximately 40% more expensive than traditional bunker fuel.  The high costs of LNG conversions has made development of marine engines that can run on methanol an attractive option; Wärtsilä is currently exploring the conversion of Stena’s Germanica ferry’s existing four engines which could ultimately enable them to run on a combination of diesel and methanol.
MI’s delegation and Wärtsilä executives and engineers witnessed the first live tests on the engines which were running on diesel, and which were then switched over to methanol and run successfully at loads up to 50%.  The engine has now successfully reached 100% load and tests are continuing to optimize the best efficiency. The company plans to overhaul Stena’s Germanica engines for use with methanol later this year, and the Germanica’s four engines should all be running on diesel and methanol by August 2015.

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