As 2021 opened, all types of industry were hoping to bounce back from a turbulent year and to get back to business as usual as soon as possible. The maritime world, although still faced with navigating enhanced restrictions and health and safety measures, was no different.
NEW RULES FOR NEW BEGINNINGS
As the immediate industry shock of the pandemic diminished, the maritime industry looked ahead to consider how to make progress towards net zero. To support shipyards and shipowners in their efforts, Bureau Veritas (BV) published new rules and notations to de-risk future zero-carbon fuels and propulsion methods.
Firstly, our AMMONIA-PREPARED notation for new builds certifies that a ship is fit to be converted to use ammonia as fuel. This notation, which includes specific requirements according to the original fuel type, is a prelude to a full Rule note for ammonia-fueled ships. In December, we witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd, CSTC and JS & Co for very large integral green ammonia carriers. The vessels will be the largest of their kind and will be used to supply the ammonia to Europe and North East Asia from 2025. We have also issued Approvals in Principle (AiP) to GTT for an ammonia membrane containment tank system, and to HHI and KSOE for an ammonia carrier with ammonia-fueled propulsion.
Secondly, our rules for using methanol as a fuel aim to minimize risks for the vessel, its crew and the environment. To show their compliance with our rules, vessels can receive our METHANOL FUEL notation, which will demonstrate that they are ready to safely implement this potentially zero-carbon fuel.
Thirdly, our new Rules for wind propulsion systems provide a valuable classification framework for the design and in-service stages of wind-powered ships. We were excited to award an AiP to Zéphyr & Borée for a first-of-its-kind open-top containership using wind-propelled wing-sails. By helping to build trust in the safety and viability of these next-generation technologies, BV can support their growth and acceptance within the industry.
And finally, we helped to define what makes a vessel sustainable with our SUSTAINABLESHIP notations, which were inspired by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to consider pollution, emissions, ecosystems recycling and onboard wellbeing.
BUILDING TRUST IN PROGRESS
The BV team was delighted to be able to make a gradual return to in-person events and to discuss the future of our industry with its community. At the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit, we discussed the benefits of encouraging a diverse workforce in the shipping industry and how to attract future talents. At GasTech 2021 we were proud to deliver an Approval in Principle to Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. and Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co., Ltd. for an ammonia carrier with ammonia-fueled propulsion.
At COP26, as our delegation joined maritime stakeholders in Glasgow, attention was centered on how the shipping industry could decarbonize and reach its net-zero targets. At our event Shipping after COP26 as part of the Malin Spotlight Series, we were able to reflect on what lies ahead, and what will be needed to turn these conversations into actions. We were proud to join the Getting to Zero Coalition, whose ambition is to have commercially viable zero-emission vessels operating deep sea trade routes by 2030.
Throughout 2021, seafarers were still faced with difficult conditions. In recognition of our shared responsibility to protect the frontline workers of the global shipping industry, we signed the Neptune Declaration. In doing this, we are supporting the implementation of gold standard health and wellbeing protocols and committing to help operators and managers in protecting their crews and passengers.
Though many areas of the maritime industry are still impacted by the pandemic, this year has brought with it movements towards recovery, and promises of further progress. We look towards 2022 in great anticipation of the projects that lie ahead of us and their implications for a safer and greener maritime industry.
Different Types of Hydrogen
As a zero-carbon fuel, hydrogen represents a key solution for shipowners looking to reduce their emissions and can be produced using different energy sources. There are currently 4 types of hydrogens: Black, Grey, Blue and Green.
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AN INSIDE LOOK AT METHANOL AS FUEL
Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, is one of the most widely produced chemicals on earth, with nearly 100 million tons currently being made per year worldwide, nearly all produced from natural gas or coal.
It offers a firm foundation for its use as an alternative marine fuel for the shipping world, thanks to the ability to store it onboard in liquid form at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure. Additionally, methanol handling and power conversion technologies are mature, and there is a strong level of infrastructure already existing in ports. Furthermore, methanol’s comparatively low pollutant emissions make it a good fuel choice for owners looking to meet environmental targets.
However, methanol presents a handful of challenges for ship owners and managers, notably in terms of availability, the cost of sustainably produced methanol, and onboard safety assurance. Overcoming these challenges will require ongoing collaboration between the marine and chemical industries, with an emphasis on advancing production of carbon-neutral methanol (bio-methanol or e-methanol) when considering well-to-wake greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
PUTTING SUSTAINABILITY AND SAFETY FIRST
Safety is the first concern when using methanol as fuel. While methanol may be stored as a liquid at ambient temperatures and under normal pressure, it is a toxic and flammable substance. Particular attention must be paid to the high toxicity of its vapors. For shipowners looking to use methanol as fuel, this first means that specific arrangements for ventilation systems must be arranged onboard to ensure safe working conditions for crew. Second, methanol tanks must be maintained with inert atmosphere at all times during normal operations, avoiding the risk of dangerous chemical reactions. Finally, personnel must be trained to properly handle methanol, undergoing safety management training to minimize risk.
The second concern is sustainability. Methanol does hold a sustainability advantage over heavy fuel oil (HFO) and low sulfur fuel, containing no sulfur and producing limited nitrous oxides (NOx) and minimal particulate matter when burnt. However, its tank-to-wake GHG emissions remain high, typically reported as averaging only a 7% decrease in CO2 emissions as compared to HFO – markedly less than the theoretical 22% reduction possible with liquefied natural gas (LNG). This makes decarbonizing methanol production a must for the long-term sustainability and viability of methanol as marine fuel.