Methanol Bunkering Revolution: Houlder’s Space-Optimized Vessel

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Semi-Automated Crane Systems

According to Houlder, the methanol bunkering vessel design includes semi-automated crane systems for supplying methanol to other ships of a wide size range, including cruise and large container vessels.

In addressing the challenges around space during the vessel design process, Houlder claimed it navigated complex constraints to optimize the vessel’s layout for maximum efficiency and compliance, adding:

“The use of methanol as both cargo and fuel presented unique spatial considerations, given its lower density compared to conventional fuels, the different regulatory requirements concerning storage and use as cargo or fuel, and associated handling spaces. Houlder’s design team explored allocated space within the hull to balance these requirements within a vessel that is of comparable size to existing small tankers, while adhering to strict safety regulations.”

“The placement options for propulsion fuel tanks and other critical spaces were thoroughly reviewed to ensure operational effectiveness without compromising safety, performance and vessel size. Electric powertrain architecture was also incorporated, allowing for future upgrades to fuel cell technology, and providing environmental benefits with respect to reduced noise.”

Optimization and Technology

To optimize vessel efficiency, Houlder said the team utilized the latest digital twin technology to create a virtual world, noting that this can be leveraged to analyze adjustments to existing ship operations, to design brand new vessels or to outline various ways to save fuel and cut associated GHG emissions on specific voyages or across all operations.

Innovative Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were deployed within this process to consider various solutions such as twin propeller configurations and bulbous bow designs, Houlder revealed, adding that the impact of a minimal ballast philosophy on the design was also assessed – the propeller size and subsequent propulsive power requirements, for example.

“These tools allowed Houlder to analyse the trade-off between propeller size and number against fuel efficiency in both full load and ballast conditions across a range of different operating profiles. As a result, numerous design variants exist, ready to be optimally balanced for OPEX and CAPEX for particular operating routes, and taking owner preferences into account,” Houlder pointed out.

To note, the SPINE project aims to establish an interface between ships, remote control centers, port operating systems and national energy infrastructure to address challenges in maritime decarbonization and autonomy.

The SPINE Project

It is supported by MarRI-UK under the Smart Maritime Land Operations Call and brings together a consortium of organizations, led by MSE International, focusing on energy and autonomy in the maritime industry.

Arun Pillai, Project Director at Houlder, commented: “Entering the SPINE project, Houlder aimed to expand its influence in the research and development activities around alternative fuels. Completion of this design project involved detailed analyses to ensure compliance with stringent regulations governing methanol as both fuel and cargo, reaffirming Houlder’s expertise in this area.”

“We are pleased with the outcome of this concept design project, and Houlder looks forward to engaging with additional stakeholders interested in advancing methanol bunkering and exploring further opportunities in alternative fuel and efficient vessel design.”

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Source: Offshore-Energy