A coalition of shipping leaders is launching today (6 September) to identify, accelerate and advocate technology solutions that measure and manage methane emissions activity. This Methane Abatement in Maritime (MAM) Innovation Initiative aims to minimise the environmental impact of LNG in shipping, whilst aiding the transition to future fuel solutions.

Led by Safetytech Accelerator, established by Lloyd’s Register, MAM is a technology acceleration programme whose activities will initially be supported by seven partners: Maran Gas Maritime, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Carnival Corporation, Seaspan, Shell, Lloyd’s Register and Knutsen Group. It will also draw on the expertise of academics, civil society, and other stakeholders, such as the National Physical Laboratory.

Tackling methane slip

LNG has long been understood by the shipping industry as a bridging fuel to support its decarbonisation efforts – with campaign groups forecasting that over two-thirds of new ships will be powered by LNG by 2025. Since 2010, the number of vessels fuelled by LNG has grown consistently by twenty to forty per cent per annum.

Compared to traditional marine fuels, LNG is widely understood to generate less carbon dioxide (CO2), and emit less nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SOx), and particulate matter (PM), for the same propulsion power. However, some analysis has indicated that the environmental benefits of using LNG could be negated due to the propensity of LNG vessels to leak unburned methane through the combustion process.

Also read: Approval in principle for Methane Oxidation Catalyst System which targets methane slip

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, estimated to have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 27-30 over 100 years, while CO2 has a GWP of 1 regardless of time period used. Defining what constitutes negligible methane emissions, and then ensuring the sector meets that target, is therefore a vital imperative for an industry grappling with its climate footprint and increasingly using LNG as a transition fuel.

In its first year, members of MAM will seek to identify and pilot new technologies to monitor and reduce “methane slip” from vessels fuelled by LNG. Once these solutions have been validated, the initiative will seek to endorse them to industry from 2023. The MAM Innovation Initiative will tackle how ship owners and operators can be encouraged to adopt proven abatement technology at scale.

Also read: Alfa Laval and WinGD present solution that targets methane slip

Measuring methane slip

To date, there are no globally recognised methods for measuring methane slip – with a lack of available data and tools contributing to the issue. It is hoped that the new solutions identified by the innovation initiative will help the industry to understand the extent of, and then manage, their methane emissions activities.

Measuring the scale of methane emissions, and understanding if they can be managed to negligible levels, will signal if liquefied bio methane (LBM) and liquefied synthetic methane (LSM) are viable pathway fuels to help achieve 2050 decarbonisation targets.

‘Shipping currently lacks the information and tools they need to accurately measure the amount of methane released by LNG-fuelled ships, and the extent of this impact,’ says Steve Price, Head of Partnerships, Safetytech Accelerator. ‘We believe that better information will allow the maritime industry to better understand the extent to which its LNG-fuelled ships are emitting methane. Understanding the extent of this methane slip will allow companies’, society and policymakers understand LNG’s real environmental impact. Empowering markets to channel investments to new technologies that can reduce methane slip, or to other transition fuels.’

Picture: The AIDANova is the first cruise ship in the world that can operate completely using LNG.

Also read: Neptune Energy joins initiative to cut methane emissions