Fuel Future.

Blue Shipbuilding
The future of ship building has begun

Ship propulsions for the Future

AIDA Helios-class made in Papenburg
Cruise ships are being criticised quite frequently by some environmental organisations which then use to present some dramatic figures. Is that actually true and what is currently being done to build eco-friendlier vessels? Ships and passenger ships in particular are an eco-friendly means of transportation indeed, and even more so when you compare the energy needed per capita and kilometre to other modes of transport like for excample the car. Making vessels even more eco-friendly is an important target and a coinciding strong selling point for excample of the shipyard MEYER WERFT from Papenburg. To the shipyard, climate protection is a synonym for fewer operating cost on the part of the shipping company because fuel costs represent a large portion of passenger ships’ operating expenses.

Picture: AIDA Cruises
Picture: Meyer Werft

Maritime Energy Revolution: New fuels
Most ships have usually been equipped with diesel motors up to now. These need either marine diesel (MDO) or heavy fuel oil (HFO) when out at sea. The MEYER WERFT has integrated a state-of-the-art emission control system, scrubbers, into the Quantum and Breakaway-Plus Classes in order to reduce emissions especially with regard to the usage of heavy fuel. The shipyard based in  Papenburg is of the opinion that these scrubbers are a sound interim solution. Being an innovative company, MEYER WERFT has promoted GasPax, a research project for the development of new technical solutions for using the clean fuel LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). The aim of the involved shipyards, classification society and engineering companies has been to develop a marketable gas-powered passenger ship and therefore gain a competitive advantage. MEYER WERFT is convinced that LNG is going to replace conventional oil as fuel. In summer 2015, AIDA ordered two vessels with LNG propulsion. Last year it was decided that the whole gas system would be built on MEYER WERFT’s own responsibility. Currently, a group of specialists is being set up for this purpose. AIDA  Cruises is going to be the world’s first cruise shipping company to operate their new vessel generation with Liquefied Natural Gas.

Chart: Based on graphic of Meyer Werft

Up to now, the Papenburg shipyard and Meyer Turku have twelve vessels with this technology in their order books which makes them market leader. The future definitely belongs to LNG, finds MEYER WERFT, even if only a few ships consistently using this alternative are in operation to date. The further roll-out of LNG or Dual Fuel Propulsion throughout the cruise fleet is making significant progress
(motors can be driven by LNG and HFO/MDO). However, out of the about 60,000 vessels world-wide only 400 are cruise ships. The commercial shipping industry (container, freighters, tankers etc.) still has its difficulties. The assertion that the ten biggest ships in the world emit more pollutants than all cars in the world cannot be maintained when facts are checked. However, it is correct that vessels are responsible for more sulphur oxide emissions than cars. By 2020, about 100 more LNG-powered ships are going to be in operation, e.g. the new gas tanker “Coral Energice” by MEYER WERFT. Currently, there are already numerous LNG-powered ferries in use. Still, supplying these ships with LNG remains a big challenge in many ports. The required infrastructure is only now being built. The positive effect of reducing harmful emissions is evident. The combustion of LNG emits about the same amount of carbon dioxide but it causes no particulates (PM) or sulphur oxides (SOx) and fewer nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Chart: Based on graphic of Meyer Werft

What will happen in future?
LNG is a fossil fuel. It is mainly made from methane which can be produced on a renewable basis. Gas propulsion is going to be driven by regenerative methane produced from the “power to gas” process. With respect to regenerative and climate neutral production also liquid alternative fuels come to the fore, e.g. alcohols like methanol. The advantage is that they are easier to manage and to store. Methanol is also being used for the fuel cells of MEYER WERFT. Within the scope of various research projects, e.g. e4-ships, MEYER WERFT has developed concepts for fuel cells together with other shipyards and partners. Experts believe that new fuel cell power generation systems are going to become equally important within the next decade. In the short term, hybrid solutions with  additional LNG-motors are possible. In the medium and longterm it is about replacing the combustion engine. In a surely longer transition period, synthetic fuel could replace fossil fuel in combustion motors. We are in times of change, as the diagram below shows. The coming years will show which fuels finally prevail. In 2014, a first pilot plant for fuel cells was built in Papenburg. In 2016, the next step was taken and the world’s first fuel cell system was installed at the passenger ship “MS Mariella”. In the near future, MEYER WERFT can apply fuel cells in combination with LNG. Until the propulsion systems can be used at sea, important time factors -next to the development and construction phases- are the worldwide adaption and approval procedures.

MEYER WERFT is on a good way and has already achieved a lot in making cruise ship operations more eco-friendly. Even if allegations such as cruise ships causing the same emissions like 5 million cars or the ten biggest ships causing more emissions than all cars in the world cannot be maintained upon serious analysis, realising the energy revolution in the shipping industry was and is the right thing to do. As for cars, aircraft or the rail you can see that renewable fuels as well as the renunciation from the combustion engine cannot be realised overnight. Ideas and creativity are required such as the awareness and the ambition to promote and improve developments. A fundamental rethink in the shipping industry is perceptible. This is proven by the twelve LNG ships for different cruise shipping  companies that are in the order books of the MEYER Group at the time of publication which will be assembled at the locations Papenburg (MEYER WERFT), Turku (MEYER TURKU) and Rostock (NEPTUN WERFT).

Energy efficiency
Also in the shipping industry the energy revolution is a major feature. The more efficiently energy is utilised the easier it gets. During the last 10-15 years many steps have been taken to make vessels more efficient than their predecessors, e.g. through improved hydrodynamics (ship design), LED lighting, sensor technology, improved insulation and glazing, co-generation and much more.

Methanol-ferry Stena Line

“Stena Germanica” is one of the largest ferries in the world: it is 240 metre long, has 4.2 kilometre of cargo area with a capacity for 300 passenger cars and on top of it all, it can take along 1,300 passengers. But the most remarkable feature is this: It is the world’s first ferry powered by methanol. Methanol as such is no innovation. You know it from remote-controlled cars and planes and it is very convenient for indoor motor sport as the exhaust fumes are much cleaner. Methanol is made of natural gas which is a fossil fuel extracted from the earth crust. However, it can basically be produced from any other matter containing a carbon atom, such as pulp, biomass, waste or  even carbon dioxide. Compared with other fuels the usage of methanol reduces the emission of sulphur oxides (SOx) by 99 per cent, of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 60 percent, of particulates by 95 percent and of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 25 percent. In addition, methanol is a biodegradable and cost-effective fuel.

The emissions are mainly composed of water, steam and carbon dioxide. Should methanol get into the ocean, it would dissolve completely. If all ferries were powered by methanol, there would be fewer accidents damaging the environment. Therefore, Stena Line has been awarded the “Ship-Owner of the Year” prize at the Green Ship Technology Conference 2017.

This is how it works
“Stena Germanica” features four Wärtsilä motors with a total of 32,000 hp. Since its conversion it is run by a “Dual Fuel” technology, i.e. by methanol and part time marine diesel. The fuel system for methanol is a Common Rail System requiring a high-pressure pump and a double wall high-pressure fuel pipe. “Stena Germanica” has double-walled fuel tanks now for which existing water ballast tanks were retrofitted. This also enhances security because the methanol tank is surrounded by more water tanks. As methanol is a ighly flammable alcohol the safety precautions are very strict. In order to ensure the smooth and safe integration also in other ports, the ports of Kiel and Gothenburg have been project partners right from the beginning and participated in analyses and approval procedures. Safety first!

Color Hybrid

Color Line is full of energy to break new ground. Since summer 2019, the world’s biggest plug-in hybrid ferry is in operation on the 40 nautical miles route between Sandefjord and Strömstrad. The vessel “COLOR HYBRID” features a combination of a diesel-mechanic and a diesel-electric propulsion system that is more economical than conventional diesel-electric systems. COLOR HYBRID is powered by batteries with a storage volume of about 5 MWh (mega watt hours) which enable manoeuvring or an electric passage of up to 12 knots for up to 60 minutes. So the entry into and exit out of the Fjord are completely managed by the batteries and therefore no harmful gases, nitrogen or sulphur compounds are emitted here anymore.

Picture: Color Line

The remaining distance at sea is covered with diesel motor propulsion. The COLOR HYBRID motor reduces the fuel consumption here, too. The batteries – or rather the energy storage system, is charged with ecofriendly electricity from a shore power connection or from the vessel’s own generator. With the newbuild vessel designed by Fosen Yard and constructed by the Ulstein shipyard Color Line also significantly increases its capacity on the route: The new ferry can take almost twice as many passengers as the “Bohus” currently in operation. In June 2017, Color Line was awarded the “Next Generation Award” at the “Nor-Shipping”, the international trade show and conference of the shipping industry in Oslo. Focused on innovation, the award honours the most promising ship designs that are taken into operation in the next decade. According to the jury, the ferry holds the potential of influencing the design of many other kinds of ships in the long run. This makes Color Line a forerunner in the maritime industry currently undergoing the green revolution. With the connection installed in Sandefjord in 2017 all Norwegian Color Line ports boast shore power facilities. Also the two big vessels “Color Fantasy” and “Color Magic”.