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DNV GL publishes its review of marine fuel alternatives

Image courtesy of DNV GL
Image courtesy of DNV GL

Class society DNV GL has published an up-to-date assessment of the most promising alternative marine fuels available today. The study is timely, as the 2020 fuel sulfur cap is fast approaching and the IMO has just decided to aim for a 50 percent cut in shipping’s carbon emissions.

The paper examines the prospects for the full range of alternatives – LNG, LPG, methanol, biofuel, hydrogen, fuel cells, wind and battery technologies – and it compares them to the use of conventional fuel, both with scrubbers and without. It is primarily aimed at helping shipowners understand their compliance options for the approaching sulfur cap, but it also includes a detailed breakdown of the carbon emissions profile of each fuel and propulsion technology.

Over the short term, the paper predicts that the vast majority of vessels in service today will either switch to low sulfur conventional fuels or install a scrubber system while continuing to use heavy fuel oil (HFO). DNV GL notes that because of the limited availability of scrubber installations, at most about 4,000 vessels will be using the technology in 2020. This raises the question of whether the high-sulfur fuel that scrubber-equipped vessels are designed to consume will remain available, given the small size of the market.

DNV GL’s compilation of the carbon profiles of fuel alternatives is particularly timely, as the industry is discussing its options in the wake of the MEPC’s agreement on a CO2 reduction target.

Among the proposed alternative fuels for shipping, DNV GL identified LNG, LPG, methanol, biofuel and hydrogen as the most promising solutions. Among the new technologies, the class society believes battery systems, fuel cell systems and wind-assisted propulsion have reasonable potential.

LNG appears particularly promising as a practical solution, with a combination of low fuel cost and modest greenhouse gas emissions reductions (assuming that methane slip and supply chain methane emissions are well-controlled). It has the smallest carbon footprint of any fossil fuel option, and it is a widely-produced industrial commodity, which eases concerns about availability. “LNG has already overcome the barriers related to international legislation and is available in sufficient quantities today to meet the requirements of the shipping industry for many years. It also fits within the trend of demands to lower emissions of CO2, NOx and particulate matter,” said Gerd Würsig, DNV GL’s business director for alternative fueled ships.

According to DNV GL’s assessment, the most carbon-intensive marine fuels available today are methanol derived from methane, with net CO2 emissions potentially higher than heavy fuel oil; and hydrogen derived from methane, which also may generate more CO2 than conventional bunkers. These findings rest upon a “well-to-propeller” analysis examining the entire supply chain, not just the emissions generated on board the ship.

Hydrogen from electrolysis was by far the cleanest fuel option examined, and it offers a nearly emissions-free alternative (assuming a renewable source of electricity). However, DNV GL also identified it as among the most expensive options. “When hydrogen is produced using renewable energy, it can be assumed to be much more expensive than Brent crude oil. It would only be competitive under the assumption of massive subsidies, or of heavy taxes on conventional fuels,” DNV GL concluded.

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Portable testing device for fuel sulfur content launched

Parker Kittiwake has launched the X-Ray Fluorescence Analyzer (XRF), a portable testing device that, among other parameters, measures the sulfur content in fuel.

The XRF provides an accurate indication of sulfur content through the analysis of a small fuel sample in less than three minutes. This gives both shipowners and Port State Control (PSC) the ability to conduct laboratory-standard testing onsite before non-compliant fuel is bunkered and before a vessel carrying non-compliant fuel leaves port.

Traditional methods for confirming compliance with sulfur limits rely on paperwork requirements such as the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN). This not only significantly increases the risk of non-compliance and subsequent penalties for shipowners, but also heightens the environmental impact of burning fuel with a higher sulfur content. In addition, the delay incurred by laboratory analysis creates the risk that the vessel may have left port with non-compliant fuel onboard, or may require non-compliant fuel to be de-bunkered and compliant fuel re-bunkered, incurring significant delays and additional cost. The XRF Analyser provides a spot-check analysis of the sulfur content in fuel on site, allowing PSC to ascertain compliance almost instantly, and affording shipowners the opportunity to avoid fines, plus the time, expense and operational impact of bunkering non-compliant fuel.

Larry Rumbol, Parker Kittiwake’s Marine Condition Monitoring Manager, said: “Given the lack of environmental policing on the high seas, enforcement of the 2020 global sulfur cap is a daunting challenge for the industry. Efforts to develop robust enforcement solutions tend to focus on paperwork checks at ports, but this must be reinforced by accurate, reliable testing data.

“Shipowners and operators are fighting an uphill battle to ensure they can effectively prove compliance. And Port State Control needs a way to ascertain compliance quickly and onsite, allowing them to take timely and appropriate action. With significant confusion over the stipulations in the way sulfur measurements are made – for example, it is possible for fuel to pass ISO 4259 commercial tests but fail against MARPOL standards – it is clear that both parties require easy access to the data they need to accurately check and prove compliance.”

The XRF Analyzer is factory calibrated according to the ISO 8754 standard, and is capable of conducting field measurements that correlate strongly with laboratory measurements. Fuel can be easily sampled at any stage of the bunkering process, and test results can be stored electronically, allowing operators to manage compliance audits more efficiently.

In addition to sulfur testing, the XRF Analyser can be used to measure a range of wear metals in lubricating oil, allowing operators to quickly identify potential damage in cylinder liners, bearings, piston rings, gears, stern tubes and hydraulic systems.

Integrated into a small, lightweight housing, the XRF is easily portable for “plug-and-play” operation. Test results are displayed as a percentage on an LCD screen, avoiding ambiguity and mitigating the risk of human error through operators needing to interpret the test data.

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Former Cunard flagship Queen Elizabeth 2 opens as a hotel in Dubai

The legendary former Cunard flagship Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) is set to finally open its doors to the public as a hotel in Dubai tomorrow, April 18, almost 50 years after her completion by the John Brown shipyard in Scotland and more than nine years after her retirement from active Cunard service in November 2008.

Initial plans by Dubai World to convert the vessel to a hotel were disrupted by the 2008 financial crisis, but now PCFC Hotels – part of the Dubai government’s Ports, Customs and Free Zones Corporation – says it has “reinvented the legendary vessel as the latest must-see tourism destination, in a city renowned for its world-class attractions.”

The ship is now docked permanently at Mina Rashid, where her dining, accommodations and entertainment attractions will be unveiled.

Her opening marks the first phase – a “soft opening” – of several stages in which segments of the liner will be opened and released.

Hamza Mustafa, CEO of PCFC Hotels commented: “To finally open the QE2 is a dream come true for my team and I. It is one of Dubai’s most highly anticipated projects and we know that a lot of people are going to be very excited to see her for the first time or to step back on board the vessel that created so many wonderful memories during her 40 years at sea.

“We are especially thankful to our Chairman, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem whose vision and determination to give her a second life has come to fruition. His passion for Queen Elizabeth 2 and all that she represents means that she can continue to deliver the grandeur that she stood for, within a new special location at the heart Mina Rashid, in Dubai.

“We have dedicated more than 2.7 million man-hours into transforming this legendary ocean liner into the multi-faceted tourist destination that she is today and I am very proud to reintroduce her to the world as she embarks on the next stage of her celebrated journey. It has been an honour to work on this wonderful project and to help ensure that our lovely Lady lives up to her new slogan: still making history.”

According to PCFC Hotels, the 13-deck hotel “has been thoughtfully restored to her former glory – maintaining her most loved interior design features – including her period furniture, renowned paintings and famous memorabilia. The original porthole windows still add a maritime feel to the attractive modernized guest rooms and a number of her original restaurants have retained the same names and décor as in her former years.”

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Liquid nitrogen and heat system could meet new rules on emissions

Perryman Technologies is developing what it believes is the marine power source of the future – a source of powering marine engines that do not rely on combustion and does not result in any harmful emissions. Instead, steam, gas turbine can be powered by heat and diesel engines can be powered thermal energy, heat, stored as molten metal, combined with liquid nitrogen or highly compressed air.

Spokesman Shiva Vencat says the Perryman battery system is timely, considering the IMO has just agreed to cut emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050. He also cites Wood Mackenzie’s prediction that global shipping fuel costs are likely to rise by a quarter in 2020 when the global sulfur cap takes effect.

Like furnaces and kilns, energy in the battery is contained within layers of refractory material. The core consists of trays and inertial dampeners. “These space-age and traditional refractory materials remain stable for millions of melts,” says Vencat. A solid-state thermal transfer material extracts the energy. The battery is charged using magnetic induction from any electrical source with energy conversion efficiency, electrical to thermal that exceeds 98 percent.

“Only nuclear power can store more energy than a Perryman battery,” says Vencat. “Yet our technology is safer than an art-class kiln.” With it, we can possibly increase the thermal efficiency of an engine by as much as 30 percent, and can retrofit any internal combustion engine old or new, he says.

The battery works as a result of the properties of liquid nitrogen which expands nearly 600 times its volume when heated to room temperature 20oC (68oF) and when heated to 500oC (932oF) the expansion is extraordinary, far more than diesel combustion. In a large maritime application, the liquid nitrogen or compressed air can be manufactured on board using the lower temperature waste fraction of the energy stored in the battery between 500oC and 300oC. This energy can run a steam generator with sufficient to power for a small onboard liquefied nitrogen plant or compressor. These commercial liquid nitrogen plants are off-the-shelf and skid-mounted. All of the liquid nitrogen needed can be produced from the air while the vessel is in transit.

The combination of the high-temperature heat and liquid nitrogen’s high energy density means that a ship could travel at least 10 times further than it could on the same amount of diesel if measured by mass and a bit less if measure by volume. With the lowered maintenance cost, the extended range between refuelling and the saving of using inexpensive electricity instead of burning low sulfur diesel or natural gas, return on investment in the retrofit can be achieved within a few years, according to Vencat.

With over six years of development already undertaken Perryman Technologies is now converting a stationary four-cycle diesel generator. “We are doing this in collaboration with a group of colleges and a major U.S. university,” says Vencat. “The demonstration will allow careful monitoring of the economics, relative performance and operating parameters, using thermal energy stored in a Perryman Battery and liquid nitrogen as a propellant. We hope this demonstration will attract partners to assist in more aggressive development on marine and other mobile application of the technology.”

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IMO adopts climate change strategy for shipping

Nations met at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London recently
Nations met at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London recently

Nations meeting at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London recently have adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships, setting out a vision to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping and phase them out, as soon as possible in this century.

The vision confirms IMO’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and, as a matter of urgency, to phasing them out as soon as possible.

More specifically, under the identified “levels of ambition”, the initial strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG emissions from international shipping which, it says, should peak as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely.

The strategy includes a specific reference to “a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals”.

The initial strategy was adopted by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), during its 72nd session at IMO Headquarters in London, United Kingdom. The meeting was attended by more than 100 IMO Member States.

The initial strategy represents a framework for Member States, setting out the future vision for international shipping, the levels of ambition to reduce GHG emissions and guiding principles; and includes candidate short-, mid- and long-term further measures with possible timelines and their impacts on States. The strategy also identifies barriers and supportive measures including capacity building, technical cooperation and research and development (R&D).

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said the adoption of the strategy was another successful illustration of the renowned IMO spirit of cooperation and would allow future IMO work on climate change to be rooted in a solid basis.

He told delegates, “I encourage you to continue your work through the newly adopted Initial GHG Strategy which is designed as a platform for future actions. I am confident in relying on your ability to relentlessly continue your efforts and develop further actions that will soon contribute to reducing GHG emissions from ships.”

According to the “Roadmap” approved by IMO Member States in 2016, the initial strategy is due to be revised by 2023.

Continuing the momentum of work on this issue, the Committee agreed to hold the fourth Intersessional meeting of the Working Group on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships later in the year. This working group will be tasked with developing a programme of follow-up actions to the Initial Strategy; further considering how to progress reduction of GHG emissions from ships in order to advise the committee; and reporting to the next session of the MEPC (MEPC 73), which meets 22-26 October 2018.

IMO has already adopted global mandatory measures to address the reduction in GHG emissions from ships. IMO is also executing global technical cooperation projects to support the capacity of States, particularly developing States to implement and support energy efficiency in the shipping sector.

IMO remains committed to reducing GHG emissions from international shipping and, as a matter of urgency, aims to phase them out as soon as possible in this century.

Levels of ambition
The Initial Strategy identifies levels of ambition for the international shipping sector noting that technological innovation and the global introduction of alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambition. Reviews should take into account updated emission estimates, emissions reduction options for international shipping, and the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ). Levels of ambition directing the Initial Strategy are as follows:

1 carbon intensity of the ship to decline through implementation of further phases of the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) for new ships

to review with the aim to strengthen the energy efficiency design requirements for ships with the percentage improvement for each phase to be determined for each ship type, as appropriate;

2 carbon intensity of international shipping to decline

to reduce CO2 emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008; and

3 GHG emissions from international shipping to peak and decline – to peak GHG emissions from international shipping as soon as possible and to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 whilst pursuing efforts towards phasing them out as called for in the Vision as a point on a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

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