MAN’s energy division uses synthetic gas in commercial shipping to reduce carbon emissions | Article

MAN Energy Solutions boasted a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of up to 34% compared to typical heavy fuel oil (HFO) on a 1,036 TEU container ship.

The German engine manufacturer, which is a division of Volkswagen Group commercial vehicle manufacturer MAN, has achieved this by exploiting a blend of climate-neutral synthetic natural gas (SNG) and conventional liquefied natural gas (LNG), compared to LNG alone.

Emissions also fell 27% when running on SNG blend and conventional liquefied natural gas (LNG), compared to LNG alone, according to the company.

The ship is ElbBLUE, the former Wes Amelie, which in 2017 became the world’s first boxship retrofitted to LNG. The vessel is owned by German shipping company Elbdeich and operated by charterer Unifeeder. ElbBLUE, sails the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

The first measurements were made on board the ship in September 2021 when the ElbBLUE became the first container ship in the world to replace part of its bunkered gaseous fuel (approximately 50%) with SNG.

According to a Yale Climate Connections report, 3% of global emissions are produced by ships burning HFO, which is one of the dirtiest fuels in the world. Shipping is responsible for 18-30% of global nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and 9% of global sulfur oxide (SOx) pollution.

Shipping companies for containers as well as finished vehicles, including UECC, Höegh and ships chartered by the Volkswagen Group, have invested in low-emission fuels such as LNG. The use of syngas would go even further.

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

He went on to say that “the current global political situation highlights the future role that synthetic fuels can play in a diversified energy supply in that they pave the way for less dependence on raw material deposits. , suppliers and price fluctuations.

“Following the military attack on Ukraine in violation of international law, the prices of LNG, for example, have increased significantly in recent weeks and are now at a similar level to that of SNG. If production capacity can be expanded quickly and synthetic fuels are made available on the market, SNG could become a climate-friendly and – in the long term – cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels in shipping.

Gas operation considerably reduces polluting emissions compared to HFO. In the case of the ElbBLUE, NOx has been reduced by almost 87%, while Sox and particulate emissions have been almost eliminated (up to 99%). These rates were achieved both in the exclusive operation on LNG and on a mixture of LNG and SNG, according to MAN ES.

The analysis took place during a voyage between Brunsbüttel, Germany and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, with SNG comprising approximately 50% of the bunker gas at 85% engine load.

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

Simon Motter, head of Volkswagen Group Logistics, hailed MAN ES’s use of this synthetic gas as a major step on the way to reducing emissions. “The successful implementation of synthetic natural gas in shipping is very good news,” commented Motter. “Synthetic fuels will be an important part of fossil fuel-free and more climate-friendly shipping.”

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