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Alternative fuels - Methanol
6th May 2022

What's the common thread between Egyptian Mummies, newly formed stars, and alternative marine fuels?

The answer is Methanol.

Ancient Egyptians used Methanol as an embalming chemical used in the process of mummification. Methanol has been found in interstellar space where new stars are formed, and Methanol is one of the fuels that hold promise as an alternative marine fuel. 

In this post, we will talk about Methanol as an alternative marine fuel.

Methanol (CH3OH) is a water-soluble and readily biodegradable compound comprising four parts hydrogen, one part oxygen, and one part carbon. It is the simplest member of a group of organic chemicals called alcohols. Methanol is a clean-burning, biodegradable fuel. Increasingly, Methanol's environmental and economic advantages make it an attractive alternative fuel for powering vehicles and ships, cooking food, and heating homes.

Methanol can be produced by:
  1. Using Natural gas: Most predominant method, natural gas is reformed with steam and converted to pure Methanol. The energy efficiency of the process is about 70% (energy stored in Methanol vs. energy stored in natural gas)
  2. Renewable sources like agricultural waste, biomass, and black liquor (a by-product of paper forming process)
  3. Using gasification of coal: Simple process due to the abundance of coal but the drawback is twice high GHG emissions. 
  4. Using CO2 and H2: Green H2 can be procured via electrolysis from renewable sources and CO2 can be obtained from biomass resulting in carbon-neutral methanol.

Important note: Due to its energy density, methanol fuel tanks are approximately 2.5 larger than oil tanks for the same energy content. Resulting in a larger volume required for transport.


Based on the production methods, methanol can be classified as:
  1. Green Methanol: Made from completely renewable resources. Examples: Biomass and Electrolysis via renewable electricity.
  2. Blue Methanol: Produced using blue hydrogen with carbon capture technology. This method is not completely carbon neutral.
  3. Grey Methanol: Produced from Natural gas, results in significant CO2 emissions.
  4. Brown Methanol: Produced from coal, resulting in the highest CO2 emissions

Now let us consider the environmental impact of using Methanol as a marine fuel:

  1. CO2 Emissions: An overall reduction of 10% when compared to oil [TTP: Tank to Propellor]. When considering the complete lifecycle [WTT: Well to Tank], if the Methanol is created from natural gas, then CO2 emissions are equivalent to or slightly higher than the corresponding emissions of oil-based fuels. 
  2. When used in internal combustion engines, Methanol almost eliminates the sulfur emissions and meets the sulfur emissions cap.
  3. Particulate emissions are also significantly lower. 
  4. NOx emissions are lower; however, they are not low enough to satisfy the latest IMO Tier III standard NOx limits. EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) or SCR (selective catalytic reduction systems) are necessary to meet the cap. 


When considering the price:
  1. Between 2010 and 2013, the methanol prices were between European HFO and MGO prices. But since then, the methanol prices have increased and are still higher compared with distillate marine fuels.
  2. Since Methanol is primarily produced using natural gas, its price per mass unit is tied to the natural gas prices and is generally higher when considering energy content within natural gas.


In terms of Capital Investment:
Installing a methanol system (IC Engine, fuel tanks, and piping) is roughly 1/3 of the cost associated with LNG. Price reduction is due to the non-requirement of cryogenic chambers and pressurized fuel tanks. 

What makes Methanol so attractive as an alternative marine fuel is that it can be readily produced from renewable energy using hydrogen and CO2. Using electrolysis from renewable energy Hydrogen to create Methanol makes it a green fuel. According to IRENA, by 2050 there is a 5-fold demand increase. But the good news is that:
  1. The existing infrastructure can be repurposed to adopt for methanol supply chain
  2. Waste feed and CO2 systems are already available
  3. Methanol is cost-effective when compared with other low-carbon alternatives.
Partnership agreement between SRC and Skipavika
20th April 2022

Stavanger, Norway, 20th of April 2022

SRC Nordic AS and Skipavika Terminal AS have established a partnership to provide their customers with of safer and more sustainable operations. The collaboration benefits both parties. SRC takes a significant step forward in promoting its services in the Northern Sea region. With a broader service portfolio, the agreement makes Skipavika Terminal more attractive to operators looking for support for offshore rigs to prepare them for new assignments.

The scope of the agreement involves SRC's services in the marine and offshore sectors covering different assets - 3D scanning. - Design and Engineering. - Technical refits (structural, systems, equipment installation). - Electrical and automation. - Interior refits. - Structural repairs using SPS (Sandwich Plate System) technology. - Maintenance of well control equipment. - Supply and integration of remote-controlled FLS (Fairlead Locking System)

"This partnership is an important milestone in the service and value proposition development for both companies, enabling us to offer our customers a wider range of services in the North Sea area of Skipavika. The offshore industry is picking up, and more services and refits are needed to support our customers' operations. " Says Hannes Lilp, CEO of SRC Group.

“Skipavika is in a busy area in the Mongstad harbor pool near Florø and Bergen, where it provides service, maintenance, and storage for offshore rigs and vessels. The land area is 400 acres with 3.0 kilometers of shoreline with 10 ultra deep water quays. Additionally, storage, accommodation, office facilities, and covered fabrication areas are provided. Skipavika's facilities consist of a wide range of logistics equipment, shore-power etc. Rock pads for jack-up rigs, and strong mooring points. 24/7 working hours” Says Lars Hellandsjø, CEO of Skipavika Group.

SRC is specialized in EPCI solutions to any vessel type in any location in the world and is well-placed with the knowledge and capability to lead and execute complex, multidisciplinary projects with tight schedules which require tailored solutions. From engineering to final installation, SRC has completed more than 5000 projects across the world and managed up to 1000 people per project. Offices in Estonia, Italy, Norway, Poland, the US, and the Netherlands.
SRC Nordic AS, part of the SRC Group AS, was established in 2013 when the company mainly focused on sales and business development activities.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Stian Våge (stian@srcnordic.no).
Alternative fuels, Hydrogen
14th April 2022

Hydrogen has gained much spotlight as alternative energy fuel in recent years. The marine industry is also now seriously considering Hydrogen as a viable option. There are several ongoing studies to study the viability of Hydrogen as a possible fuel. This post will look at Hydrogen and give you some key facts. 

Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless, and non-toxic gas. There are three ways in which ships can use hydrogen for marine applications:
  1. Cryogenic Liquid: The volumetric density of liquefied H2 (LH2) (71 kg/m3) is only 7% that of HFO. This results in approximately five times the volume compared to the same energy stored in the form of HFO, resulting in more volume and transport cost.
  2. Compressed gas under high pressure: When stored as a compressed gas, its volume is roughly ten to 15 times (depending on the pressure [700 to 300 bar]) the volume of the same amount of energy when stored as HFO.
  3. Hydrogen can also be stored within solids (a phenomenon called absorption) or on the surfaces of solids (adsorption). Both of these methods are not so commonly utilized in marine applications. 

Hydrogen is the lightest of all elements, around 14 times lighter than air. Due to its density, it leaks very quickly and thus requires special attention in handling and logistics.

Despite its difficulties in handling, Hydrogen is a widely used chemical commodity. It can be currently produced in two ways:
  1. Using Natural Gas: note that CO2 is a byproduct of this extraction process. If carbon capture is part of the process, it can significantly reduce carbon emissions. 
  2. Using electrolysis: this relates the cost to the generation of electricity. Electrolysis is particularly interesting because it does not require any existing infrastructure except electricity generation. In particular, if the electricity is produced through nuclear and renewable energy, then carbon emissions can be extremely low if not net zero.

But what technologies can be utilized to generate energy from Hydrogen without carbon emissions and any compromise on efficiency?

Fuel cells seem to be the most popular method, mainly because it doesn’t produce any carbon and could even eliminate NOx, SOx, and particulate matter (PM) emissions from ships. Other technologies are also being considered, including gas turbines and internal combustion engines. The important thing to note is that the lifetime of fuel cells is shorter than that of piston engines or turbines and depends on fuel quality and system operation management. In addition, while carbon emissions are still lower when compared with traditional fuels such as HFO, NOx is unavoidable when using internal combustion engines.

Conventional energy converters for Hydrogen like Internal Combustion Engines will have similar capital expenditures as LNG fuelled engines. But the real kicker comes when considering the cost of storage of Liquid Hydrogen due to its lower storage temperature and higher insulation quality. 
The price for H2 in the current market varies significantly because Hydrogen is still a part of the industrial gases market where individual contracts apply. Although one promising aspect to look forward to is when renewable energy production ramps up, then it can be used to produce Hydrogen, reducing the costs significantly


Hydrogen as an alternative fuel is still a promising option despite its complexity in handling and lack of significant infrastructure. 

*The numerical data is taken from DNV, Alternative FuelEncyclopedia.