Alfa Laval thinks the next step in the energy transition in shipping will likely be methanol, which – if produced from renewable green sources – will bring the industry to a level of carbon neutrality. Together with MAN Energy Solutions, the company is developing a lowflashpoint supply system for ME-LGIM two-stroke engines.
The lowflashpoint supply system (LFSS), named Alfa Laval FCM Methanol, has now reached more than 100,000 hours of operation, and the solution has been further developed to meet the additional requirements of methanol-fuelled four-stroke engines and Alfa Laval Aalborg boilers.
‘Shipowners will save space and energy by using the same LFSS for the main engine, auxiliary engines and boilers fired with methanol,’ says Roberto Comelli, Business Manager Fuel Conditioning Systems. ‘We can engineer one FCM Methanol system to handle the process parameters of multiple methane consumers, with automation that meets all their different needs.’
HTPEM fuel cells
Handling and combusting methanol, however, will be only one side of the methanol equation. Because methanol contains less energy than traditional fuels, it will also be necessary to rethink energy use on methanol-fuelled vessels. Alfa Laval and partners are developing hightemperature proton exchange membrane (HTPEM) fuel cells to supplement energy production, but a new approach to existing energy sources will also be needed.
‘Waste heat recovery, which is usually overlooked on today’s vessels, will be a key component of tomorrow’s methanol operations,’ explains Lars Skytte Jørgensen, Head of Technology Development, Energy Solutions. ‘There will be less demand for steam on board, but the heat energy will need to be applied in other ways. Due to methanol’s lower energy content and higher price, shipowners will want to turn every bit of the energy released into either mechanical or electrical power.’