A Collaborative Approach To Creating A Methanol Engine

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Credit: Tyler Lastovich/Unsplash
  • This hydrogen can be further processed into so-called e-methanol by synthesis, with the addition of CO2 from the air.
  • At the same time, highly qualified jobs are secured in Germany.
  • Methanol, a new fuel for shipping, requires significant changes to the engine concept.

By the end of 2025, Rolls-Royce, Woodward L’Orange, and WTZ Roßlau hope to have created a high-speed marine engine that is carbon-neutral and can run on green methanol, as reported by Diesel Gas Turbine.

Technology strategy and stability

The new collaborative project, MeOHmare, has been in development by the three businesses since the beginning of 2023 and is being funded with €8 million by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection.

The alliance’s coordinator, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, which is in charge of technology strategy and sustainability, said, “We are grateful for the funding and are confident that with this experienced alliance of engine manufacturer, injection system supplier, and research institute, we will successfully get the methanol engine on the water.”

Decarbonization

Decarbonization in shipping is a major problem, according to Dieter Janecek, the German government’s maritime coordinator and there is excellent potential for new marine propulsion technology and sustainable fuels, like methanol, therefore the government wants to help the market ramp up.

CO2-neutral operation is conceivable if methanol is created utilising the so-called power-to-X process. Green hydrogen is created through electrolysis using electricity generated from renewable resources. With the addition of CO2 from the air, this hydrogen can then be synthesised into so-called e-methanol.

Maritime Research Program

Methanol, according to Charterjee, is the fuel of the future for ships. It is a fuel that is currently employed in the chemical sector and will be generated in the future using green technology.

The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection supports the growth of innovative goods in the future sectors of shipbuilding, the offshore industry, and marine technology by encouraging development within the scope of the “Maritime Research Program.” The grant programme, with an approximate yearly funding amount of €60 million, aims to strengthen maritime industry innovation in the face of global competitiveness and advance climate and environmental protection. At the same time, Germany has positions that need a high level of qualification.

Development operations 

The concept of the engine must be significantly altered to accommodate methanol, a new fuel for shipping. The focus of development operations, according to Mathias Müller, project manager at Rolls-Royce Power Systems and coordinator of the MeOHmare project, is on rebuilding the combustion process, including the fuel system, turbocharging, engine control, and other fuel-interacting engine subsystems.

The high-performance injection systems in the project will be entirely redeveloped by Woodward L’Orange, a Stuttgart-based manufacturer of injection systems for big engines.

Alternate fuels

Dr Michael Willmann, Director of Technology at Woodward L’Orange, stated that there aren’t any high-speed methanol marine engine injection systems that are ready for production yet. “Methanol is a difficult fuel because of its characteristics. It is necessary to propose new materials and injector concepts for this reason.

As part of the cooperation, Wissenschaftlich-Technisches Zentrum Roßlau (WTZ Roßlau gGmbH), a non-profit research organisation, will be in charge of establishing a methanol endurance test rig, evaluating injection components, and creating a methanol feed pump.

“With this project, we are laying the foundation for the establishment of a test centre for the validation of injection systems with alternative fuels,” said Dr.-Ing. Christian Reiser, CEO at WTZ Roßlau gGmbH.

Power Systems, a division of Rolls-Royce, will create an engine idea based on the MTU Series 4000 that is intended to operate ships using methanol in a low-emission, CO2-neutral, and cost-effective manner. The work specifically focuses on achieving the best power density of the propulsion system while also being the climate and environmentally friendly.

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Source: Diesel Gas Turbine