Comprehensive Study of Methanol as Marine Fuel Launching in China

Comprehensive study into use of methanol as a marine fuel is launching in China
One of the second-generation low emission methanol-fueled vessels introduced in 2019 - courtesy Methanex

Published Jul 14, 2020 2:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

A comprehensive study is being launched in China to explore methanol as a marine fuel. As the shipping industry continues to explore environmentally friendly solutions for its future power needs, this study will consider the technical and operational requirements for the use of methanol.

The goal of the study is to create comprehensive guidance and policy suggestions for the use of methanol as a marine fuel. It will seek to reflect the experience already gained in large and small methanol-fueled marine engines while developing a roadmap for the adoption of methanol as a marine fuel in China.

“China is the largest producer and consumer of methanol globally and it has been used safely in the country for many years, not only as a building block for the manufacturing of chemicals but also as a clean fuel in industrial boilers, passenger vehicles, and heavy duty trucks,” says Methanol Institute Chief Operating Officer Chris Chatterton. “We welcome the study which will support the use of methanol as a clean-burning marine fuel.”

The study is being led by the China Waterborne Transportation Research Institute (CWTRI), the think tank of the Chinese Ministry of Transport, along with the Methanol Institute (MI). Methanex, the world’s largest methanol producer and distributor, and Shanghai Huayi Energy Chemical Co., Ltd., one of the largest methanol producers and distributors in China are also providing support to the study.

“China is progressive in developing clean alternative fuels for its energy diversification and pollution control,” said Ji Yongbo, Director of Shipping Technology Research Center of CWTRI, which previously provided policy research on alternative marine fuels and management service for Chinese policymakers.

Among the experience the study will draw on is from Methanex, which currently operates 11 dual-fuel methanol-powered vessels globally through its wholly-owned-subsidiary Waterfront Shipping. “Our experience to date has proven methanol as a safe, reliable, cost-competitive and IMO 2020 compliant marine fuel and this study will provide an opportunity to decisively strengthen the offering of methanol as a widely available, future-proofed marine fuel in China,” said Zhang Jianning, President, Methanex China. 

In addition, Shanghai Huayi has contributed to the methanol vehicle pilot in Shanghai, providing M100 fuel for the taxi fleet. “We see potential opportunities for methanol to be used as an alternative fuel,” said Guo Min, Deputy Chief Engineer and Manager of Development Department, Shanghai Huayi. “As the IMO has confirmed in its interim guideline that methanol is a safe and compliant low flash point marine fuel, methanol can find its role in the sustainable development of China’s waterborne transportation sector.”