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METHAPU
Validation of a Renewable Methanol-based Auxiliary Power System for Commercial Vessels

METHAPU strives to facilitate the introduction of international regulations concerning the use of methanol as a fuel onboard ship. The project induces innovation activities on fuel cells, methanol fuel bunkering, distribution and storage technology, thus moving society to a higher level of sustainability.

Tags: Water

Background

There are many types of fuel cell on the market and the types mostly considered for marine applications are PEM, PAFC, MCFC and SOFC. According to online chemical engineering information, the electric efficiencies of PEM and PAFC are lower than that of SOFC and MCFC. SOFC and MCFC are both high-temperature fuel cells having approximately the same range of electric efficiency. Currently SOFC seems to be very promising and this project is utilising a certain type of SOFC technology.

Currently in Europe there are big projects, including FellowShip, aiming at integrating a fuel-cell unit with a marine vessel. Phase one of the FellowShip project has been completed successfully, but the project has not yet entered the validation phase. METHAPU serves as a good way to build upon what phase one of FellowShip has accomplished.

The challenge here is that while international regulations permit the carriage of methanol as a cargo, there are currently no international regulations allowing the use of methanol for fuel onboard ships. METHAPU will facilitate the introduction of international regulations on methanol as a marine fuel.

Future research activities on larger fuel cells and a sustainable society based on renewable fuels need a good knowledge base, and METHAPU is structured to provide the necessary springboard for such activities.

Objectives

The objectives of the project are:

  1. the introduction of renewable fuels onboard ship in support of the wider use of sustainable fuels in the marine transportation sector through research activities
  2. to validate marine-compatible methanol running on marinised solid oxide fuel-cell technology
  3. to innovate the necessary technical justifications for the use of methanol onboard cargo vessels involved in international trade in order to support the introduction of necessary regulations to allowing the use of methanol as a marine fuel
  4. to facilitate future research activities on larger marine-compatible SOFC units and a methanol-based economy
  5. Assess short-term and long-term environmental impacts of the application.
Research and innovation activities will focus on solving the technical and regulatory obstacles related to methanol fuel bunkering, distribution and storage systems.

The research activity concerns a 250 kW SOFC unit and this activity is reinforced by actually building a properly marinised and methanol-using 20 kW SOFC unit.

The 20 kW methanol-using unit will be onboard a vessel sailing the oceans and, for a period of one year, the measurement data concerning such issues as efficiency and emissions will be gathered. The measured data will be utilised when reviewing the studies done in the project.

Description of work

The marinisation study of the 250 kW unit will be done with an approach similar to the Delphi-method. The consortium is well positioned to provide the necessary expertise. This study will be applied to the building of the marine compatible 20 kW unit. The 20 kW unit will be run for a certain period and the necessary data collected. The collected data will provide inputs for reviewing the marinisation study concerning the 250 kW unit.

The technical and regulatory obstacles related to methanol bunkering, distribution and storage will be tackled with a Delphi-like approach as well. The outcomes will serve as inputs to the preparation of new regulations concerning the use of methanol as an onboard fuel.

Marinisation and regulation-related works are supported by the lifecycle assessment done to the methanol-using 250 kW unit.

Results

The work on regulatory issues would facilitate the birth of new regulations aimed at enabling the use of methanol as a fuel onboard ship.

Together with the marinisation study, these two studies would facilitate the work of other fuel-cell system integrators and provide a technical basis for the growth of a new industry around methanol.

With the results of the lifecycle assessment and the previously mentioned studies, this project would generate a tremendous base of knowledge for further research activities on greener ships, larger fuel cells and a sustainable society based on renewable fuels.

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