Monday, December 16, 2013

No. 819: World’s first transport ship that uses ethanol as fuel is scheduled for 2016 (December 16, 2013)

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL73/78) enacted in January 2013 stipulates that new ships built after 2015 should reduce fuel consumption by 10% from the level in 2013 and those built after 2025 should reduce fuel consumption by 30% from the level in 2013. Japanese shipbuilding companies are developing various kinds of technologies to cope with the standards set by the MARPOL 73/78.         

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines has decided to operate a transport ship that uses ethanol as fuel for the first time in the world. The company will develop an engine for the ship in alliance with Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding. It will operate up to three ships of this kind for Methanex of Canada that is the world largest producer of methanol. Methanol is used to produce synthetic resins and agrichemicals besides being mixed with gasoline to use as fuel. It does not emit sulfur oxide that causes air contamination, but it decomposes metals. The two companies improved materials to be used for engine and feeding pipe, and developed a technology to control the injection of methanol for higher combustion efficiency. The project transport ship will cost about 5 billion yen, about 10% higher than a transport ship Methanex is currently operating. The projected transport ship will use methanol and heavy oil, and uses methanol for 10-20% of the operational route. Two times more methanol than heavy oil is required to travel the same distance. Methanol will be purchased from Methanex. Currently the purchase price of heavy oil is 60,000 yen per ton, while methanol is 40,000 yen per ton. With the spread of using methanol as fuel, the purchase price of methanol is expected to go down. The company has already been operating car carriers in which photovoltaic generation supplies part of electricity consumed inside the ship.  

NYK is operating three ships that employ the “air lubrication system” designed to reduce friction resistance by sending air to the ship bottom. Mitsubishi Heavy is building an energy-saving LNG transport ship that reduces air resistance named “Sayaendo (Podded pea).” Kawasaki Heavy is developing a ship that uses LNG as fuel. Maritime Innovation Japan Corp. is developing a ship that improves fuel consumption by 30%. 

Mitsubishi Heavy's Eco-ship
Sayanedo (Podded pea)

 NYK Super Eco-ship Concept Design 

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