Synthetic Natural Gas Bunkering Nets 27% Cut in GHG Emissions

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MAN Energy Solutions reports that the 1,036-TEU container ship, ElbBLUE – formerly Wes Amelie – has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 27% by operating on a blend of synthetic natural gas (SNG) and conventional LNG.

According to MAN, compared with heavy fuel oil (HFO), the GHG emission reduction was as high as 34%.

First container ship to replace LNG with SNG

The data has emerged from measurements initially carried out on board the ship in September 2021 when the ElbBLUE became the first container ship in the world to replace a portion of its bunkered gas fuel (around 50%) with SNG.

With this project, we have proven the technical viability of our concept of the maritime energy transition,’ said Dr Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions. ‘Today, more than ever, we are convinced that climate-neutral, synthetic fuels point the way to green shipping – and even further beyond.’

Lauber continued: ‘The current, global, political situation underscores the future role that synthetic fuels can play in a diversified energy supply in that they point the way toward less dependence on raw material deposits, suppliers and price fluctuations. As a result of the military attack on Ukraine in violation of international law, LNG prices, for example, have risen massively in recent weeks and are now at a similar level to SNG. If production capacity can be built up quickly and synthetic fuels made available to the market, SNG could become a climate-friendly and – in the long term – economical alternative to fossil fuels in shipping.’

Significant emission control 

Stefan Eefting, Senior Vice President and Head of MAN PrimeServ Augsburg, said: ‘With this pilot project, we have proven that any LNG-powered ship can also operate with green SNG from power-to-X. Even with a blend of just 50% SNG, GHG and pollutant emissions are significantly reduced. When operated exclusively on SNG, we would expect a reduction of at least 80% in GHG emissions for modern ships.’

Gas operation also drastically reduces other polluting emissions compared to HFO. In the case of the ElbBLUE, nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) were cut by almost 87%, while emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulates were almost completely eliminated (~99%). These values were achieved in both the exclusive operation on LNG and on a blend of LNG and SNG.

Measurements were carried out on a voyage between Brunsbüttel, Germany and Rotterdam, the Netherlands with SNG comprising approximately 50% of the bunkered gas at 85% engine load.

The ElbBLUE is powered by an MAN 51/60DF four-stroke engine. As a multi-fuel engine, the unit allows operation with either HFO or LNG as fuel. The ship’s test-run, said MAN, proved that the latter can be replaced by SNG without engine modification.

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Source: MAN-ES

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