Progress for methanol as fuel for ships

Interim Guidelines for the use of methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel adopted by the IMO, and guidance on methanol bunkering from Lloyds’s Register are helping to pave the way for the take-up of methanol as a fuel for ships.

Methanol is a clean-burning fuel which makes it a viable alternative to meet emission control area (ECA) limits for sulphur, and it offers a big reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) compared to conventional fuels. Depending on how it is produced, it may also offer reduced CO2 emissions.

Because it is a low-flashpoint fuel, its use is regulated under the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code). However, as the IGF Code was initially written to provide for ships using liquefied natural gas (LNG), it lacks relevant provisions for other types of low-flashpoint fuels. IMO has therefore decided that requirements for additional low-flashpoint fuels may be developed and added to the Code.

The Maritime Safety Committee, at its 102nd session (4 to 11 November 2020), approved the Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel (the Interim Guidelines).

The purpose of these Interim Guidelines, issued as MSC.1/CIRC.1621, is to provide an international safety standard for ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel.

The Interim Guidelines include a section to provide for suitable systems on board the ship to ensure that bunkering can be conducted safely, as well as general provisions for supply systems and for methyl/ethyl alcohols.

Earlier this year, Lloyds’s Register and the Methanol Institute launched a comprehensive guidance on methanol bunkering to help shipowners, ports and bunker suppliers understand processes and procedures for the safe use of methanol as a marine fuel.

IBIA has been given permission by LR to reproduce its “Introduction to Methanol Bunkering Technical Reference”.

The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) is in the process of developing a methanol marine fuel grade specification, which will further assist in a well-regulated and standardised uptake of this fuel for marine use.

Download documents:

Introduction to Methanol Bunkering Technical Reference by Lloyds’s Register

Interim guidelines for the safety of ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel

Report by Unni Einemo

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