Alfa Laval is working on new ways of increasing ships' fuel efficiency. Image Credit: Alfa Laval
Engineering firm Alfa Laval is working on energy efficiency measures for ships running on green methanol and other zero-carbon fuels, to compensate for the increased bunker consumption caused by these fuels' lower energy density.
Shipping company AP Moller-Maersk expects the green methanol for its first carbon-neutral ship to cost about twice as much as conventional bunkers in outright terms, or about $1,000/mt. But because the energy density of methanol is about half that of VLSFO, to achieve the propulsion generated by one tonne of VLSFO the firm will need to buy about $2,000 worth of methanol.
This dramatic jump in bunker bills will be one of the biggest challenges facing the shipping industry in the coming decades.
But putting more work into increasing energy efficiency may help to reduce costs to some extent, Alfa Laval said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
"Waste heat recovery, which is usually overlooked on today's vessels, will be a key component of tomorrow's methanol operations," Lars Skytte Jørgensen, head of energy solutions technology development at Alfa Laval, said in the statement.
"There will be less demand for steam on board, but the heat energy will need to be applied in other ways.
"Due to methanol's lower energy content and higher price, shipowners will want to turn every bit of the energy released into either mechanical or electrical power."
The firm is working on high-temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cells to supplement energy production, as well as exhaust gas boilers that can reduce fuel consumption.