Marine · Offshore · Industry


Holistic design and installation solutions for ballast water treatment systems
20th July 2022

Around the world, there are numerous examples of devastating marine wildlife caused by invasive marine species. Ballast water is one of the most important reasons why invasive marine species get the chance to get introduced to new marine environments as vessels carry them around the world in their ballast water tanks.

In 2004 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) therefore introduced the Ballast Water Code (BWC) to address the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments. Today there are many options available on the market for ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) however, integrating such a system onboard of a vessel in operation, isn’t always as straightforward as it seems and often requires modifications.
The Baltic Sea is a special area for the discharge of sewage into the sea in accordance with MARPOL Annex IV.  In association with this, stricter discharge limits for sewage already apply since 1 June 2019 for newly built passenger ships while for existing passenger ships they have entered into force from 1 June 2021.
Under certain conditions, an extended transitional period ending on 1 June 2023 for single voyages of passenger ships into Russian territorial waters east of the 28°10´ longitude and back.
The stricter discharge limits for the special area can be achieved with the installation of advanced wastewater treatment plants (AWWTP). The discharge limits for these plants (phosphorus: max 1.0 mg/l or 80 percent reduction, nitrogen: max 20 mg/l or 70 percent reduction) are similar to those for land-based municipal treatment plants and significantly reduce the nutrient input into the Baltic Sea.
With an extensive track record, the SRC Group has become an expert in regard to the integration of such BWTS systems. We offer our customers design and installation services for BWTS to ensure that their vessels comply with international rules and regulations regarding ballast water management, including the aforementioned stricter discharge limits. SRC has worked on all types of vessels and we have experience with a large variety of BWT systems. Our services include the complete design of piping & electrical systems, workshop documentation, and installation & commissioning. As with every technically challenging project, our in-house 3D scanning service and pre-fabrication philosophy will be brought to the benefit of your project to allow for a smooth integration process onboard without surprises. Please find below a link to our presentation about ballast water treatment systems: 

Alternative fuels - Ammonia
26th May 2022

Today we are talking about another alternative marine fuel. Here are a few hints:

  1. It is pungent, and 0,5% of it can be deadly to humans. 
  2. It is the essential ingredient for fertilizer production and has saved billions of lives from starvation.
  3. It is being heralded as the marine fuel of the future.

Today we are going to talk about Ammonia.

Ammonia is a chemical compound with three parts hydrogen and one part nitrogen. It is a colorless and poisonous gas with a familiar noxious odor. It occurs in nature mainly produced by anaerobic decay of plant and animal matter, and it also has been detected in outer space. 

The global ammonia production in 2020 was 187 Mt, with about 85% of it being used in agriculture. The majority of the production of Ammonia is done through natural gas resulting in high carbon emissions. But in order to become a marine fuel of the future, Ammonia production has to become carbon neutral. 

Below is a classification of Ammonia based on the production methods.

Green Ammonia: Carbon-free Ammonia synthesized from nitrogen and carbon-free Hydrogen produced from renewable energy. 

Blue Ammonia: Carbon-neutral ammonia that is produced from natural gas, with the CO2 produced from the processes captured and prevented from entering the atmosphere.

Brown Ammonia: Conventional Ammonia is produced from natural gas.

Ammonia can be used in Internal Combustion engines as a marine fuel. 

Some advantages of Ammonia as a Marine fuel:
  1. Ammonia is the second most-produced chemical worldwide which means there is a global transportation and storage infrastructure already in place.
  2. It does not require particular storage temperatures and pressures compared to Hydrogen resulting in lower storage and transportation costs.
  3. Since Ammonia contains no carbon, its combustion cannot produce carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, or soot. 

However, Ammonia does have some challenges. 

  1. There is no significant infrastructure for the production of green Ammonia yet. 
  2. It is a deadly gas which means that stringent safety measures have to be established to prevent any accidents due to any leaks.
  3. The engine technology is well-established but still not fully mature. Currently, there is an engine project underway to produce a two-stroke engine by MAN. It is expected to go to market in 2024.  
  4. Unlike diesel oil, Ammonia has a very slow flame propagation, which means it burns much more slowly. Its autoignition temperature is also a lot higher, at around 630°C (diesel oil burns at 210°C). This means that sustaining combustion once it gets started is also more difficult with Ammonia than with other fuels. 

According to the Ammonfuel report compiled in 2020, the expected production cost for Green Ammonia using water electrolysis and the traditional Haber-Bosch synthesis comes out to be in the range of 375-475USD/MT. This is for a 100 MW size plant. This cost would be ~190 USD/MT for a 1 GW-sized plant, both numbers valid for a 2025- 2030 time scale.

Considering future long-term costs, i.e 2040 onwards, the cost could go down as much as 150-190 USD/MT.
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.