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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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Methanol Institute hails move to develop ISO standard for methanol

'ISO standard will help shipowners understand the fuel in a marine fuel context,' says COO.

The methanol-powered tanker Mari Jone. Image credit: Waterfront Shipping

Updated on 09 Jul 2018 08:41 GMT

The Methanol Institute (MI) has welcomed the decision of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to invite the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop a standard for methyl/ethyl alcohol as a marine fuel and a standard for methyl/ethyl alcohol fuel couplings.

The decision was taken at the 99th session of the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 99), which discussed a report from the fourth session of the Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC).

CCC has been tasked with drafting technical provisions for using methyl/ethyl alcohol as a ship fuel under an ongoing item on its agenda regarding amendments to the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code).

ISO is now set to get to work on developing the standards for methanol - the first time it has considered this fuel type for shipping.

"The global chemicals industry currently relies on the IMPCA specification for producers and consumers, but a dedicated ISO standard will help shipowners understand the fuel in a marine fuel context," remarked MI Chief Operating Officer Chris Chatterton.

"We are seeing increasing interest around methanol as a liquid fuel that is safe to handle, easy to ship and store, and is more widely available than other low-sulphur alternatives," he added

"A comment was made during MSC 99 that fuel standards should be developed before ships begin using such low-flashpoint fuels, so that safety concerns are adequately addressed before, not after, larger numbers of ships start using them," said IBIA's IMO Representative Unni Einemo. "However, ISO has traditionally developed fuel standards only after user experience, to be able to assess which parameters need to be specified, and also what relevant limits should be."

There are currently eight ships trading internationally operating on methanol as fuel: the ro-pax Stena Germanica and seven tankers operated by Waterfront Shipping, with at least four more expected to enter into service in 2019.

Methanol research

Back in May, MI welcomed the findings of the Sustainable Marine Methanol (SUMMETH) research project, which concluded that there were no obstacles to the efficient use of methanol in a converted single-fuel engine and that smaller vessel conversion projects are feasible and cost-effective, with levels of safety that meet existing requirements.

Project manager Joanne Ellis explained at the time that as biomethanol increasingly becomes available, vessel operators will be able to blend in this zero-carbon fuel and progressively meet emission reduction targets set by the IMO.

Meanwhile, an ongoing initiative named LeanShips (or Low Energy And Near to zero emissions Ships) aims to demonstrate the potential of methanol as an alternative marine fuel by examining its use on a Volvo Penta D7 engine with dual-fuel, diesel-methanol operation.

Methanol was selected for the project after coming out on top in an evaluation of sustainability, scalability and energy density.

In another paper recently released by Chevron, the oil major explained how its Taro Special cylinder lubricants were being used for the operation of the methanol-fuelled Waterfront ships Mari Jone and Mari Boyle.

Development of methanol standard follows recent biofuel specs

As previously reported, ISO last year ushered in marine fuel specifications for biofuel blends, incorporating new class 'F' grades for biofuels to be blended into marine distillates.

The ISO 8217:2017 global standard replaced the fifth edition (ISO 8217:2012), with the new grades DFA, DFZ and DFB added to permit up to 7 percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME).

Related Links:

No barriers to converting smaller, diesel engines for methanol bunkering: SUMMETH
LeanShips project tests methanol on Volvo Penta D7 engine
Chevron releases methanol and lubricants white paper
UK scientists claim 'outstanding' results making methanol from thin air
Plan to build methanol-fuelled ships for US-China project
New ISO marine fuel standard ushers in specs for biofuel blends

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