The company's Test & Training Centre in the Danish Aalborg will soon begin looking into two types of marine fuels, methanol and biofuels made from waste.
Alfa Laval will not only investigate the fuels' decarbonisation potential, but also what measures will have to be taken to adapt and develop equipment for the vessel engine rooms.
"A number of fuel pathways are on the table in the transition towards zero carbon shipping, but the knowledge about their impact on marine equipment solutions is limited. We want to extend that knowledge through testing," Sameer Kalra, President Marine Division, Alfa Laval, underlined.
The 2,800 m2-big testing space - already equipped for today's oil and gas fuels - has been readied for testing biofuels and methanol. Testing will kick off this spring.
Working together with MAN Energy Solutions and other partners (the Danish Technological Institute, Technical University of Denmark, and the biofuel producer Nordic Green), Alfa Laval will explore the possibility of running the centre's four-stroke, 2.0 MW diesel engine on methanol - without modifications or another pilot fuel.
Once the fuel arrives, the first task will be determining how to handle it at scale. Because methanol is a liquid at room temperature, it can be stored in unpressurised tanks. However, a low flashpoint of 7°C makes methanol highly volatile - despite the challenge of igniting it through compression. After working out the handling practicalities, broader tests of methanol in the unmodified engine will commence in April.
"At present, combusting methanol requires a pilot ignition with fuel oil. This necessitates two fuel lines and different types of fuel tanks on board. If methanol from renewable sources could be burned directly in standard compression engines, it would offer a shortcut to carbon-neutral shipping," Lars Skytte Jørgensen, Vice President Technology Development, Alfa Laval Marine Division, explained.
"Since ships have a lifetime of 20 years or more, zero-emission vessels must begin entering the global fleet by 2030 for a 50% reduction to be achieved by 2050. It is predicted that in 2023 the world's first carbon neutral liner vessel will be launched and that methanol-fuelled vessel will be ready for delivery in two years' time," Alfa Laval stated in a press release.
To this Jørgensen added, "Understanding the fuel and how it works in depth is of huge importance before bringing anything to market. The same will be true for methanol and ammonia."
Photo: Alfa Laval