Rolls-Royce invests in methanol technology for climate-friendly shipping
Posted on December 22, 2021
- Rolls-Royce Power Systems to set standards in high-speed marine methanol engines
- New engines based on proven mtu technologies
- Methanol and synthetic diesel as key fuels of the future for climate-friendly engine operation
- Fuel cell another option on the way to climate-neutral ship operation
Rolls-Royce is focusing on methanol as a fuel for climate-friendly shipping: Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems is currently working on mtu engines for use with methanol. The new high-speed four-stroke engines, which are based on proven mtu technologies, are planned to be available to customers as soon as possible for use in commercial ships and yachts.
Denise Kurtulus, Vice President Global Marine at Rolls-Royce Power Systems, said: “With the new development of mtu methanol engines, we want to lead the way as pioneers in the marine industry. We are clearly committed to methanol as a power source for green shipping and want to set standards and create planning security for our customers. We urgently need to create concrete solutions together to achieve the climate targets.”
Methanol offers a number of advantages for Rolls-Royce’s efforts to make shipping more climate-friendly and ultimately climate-neutral: The fuel can be produced in a CO2-neutral manner in the so-called power-to-X process, in which CO2 is captured from the air. The energy density of methanol is high compared to other sustainable fuels and, thanks to its liquid state, it can be easily stored and refuelled at ambient temperatures. Existing infrastructure can continue to be used in many cases. Unlike ammonia, methanol is not highly toxic and is environmentally safe. The combustion of methanol in a pure methanol engine can be climate-neutral with significantly reduced nitrogen oxide emissions, thus eliminating the need for complex SCR exhaust gas aftertreatment. Methanol tanks can be flexibly arranged in the ship and require significantly lower safety measures compared to hydrogen or ammonia. Besides the safety aspects and the lower complexity, the lower investment costs for users are a further upside of the methanol tank system.
Another advantage of methanol is that it is not only suitable for use in combustion engines (both Diesel and Otto), but also in combination with emission-free fuel cells: With the help of a reformer, hydrogen can be produced from methanol, which can then be used in fuel cells to generate electricity. This is particularly attractive for ships that do not have sufficient space for hydrogen tanks.
Rolls-Royce is pioneering marine applications with sustainable solutions from the bridge to the propeller. The company will release the new generation of its mtu Series 2000 and 4000 engine ranges for use with sustainable fuels such as synthetic diesel (second generation biofuels or e-diesel) from 2023, enabling climate-neutral operation in almost all applications. In addition to the use of sustainable fuels, the company is also building on new technologies such as CO2-free fuel cell systems. Smart-ship solutions that enable the semi- and fully autonomous operation of ships are also expected to help reduce CO2 emissions.
The methanol initiative and the other developments mentioned are part of Rolls-Royce Power Systems’ sustainability programme “Net Zero at Power Systems”, with which the company is taking concrete steps towards climate-neutral solutions for all its applications. In doing so, the company is relying on several technological approaches. Daniel Chatterjee, Director Technology Management & Regulatory Affairs at Rolls-Royce Power Systems, explains: “On the road to climate neutrality, there will not be one technology and one fuel that is the best solution for all applications. Rather, there will be a coexistence of different propulsion technologies and fuels. Hydrogen, for example, which is converted into energy in a fuel cell or even in a combustion engine, will be as much an issue for us and our customers as e-methanol, e-methane, e-diesel or e-ammonia."
About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc
- Rolls-Royce pioneers the power that matters to connect, power and protect society. We have pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in our operations by 2030. We joined the UN Race to Zero campaign in 2020, and have committed to ensuring our new products will be compatible with net zero operation by 2030, and all products will be compatible with net zero by 2050.
- Rolls-Royce Power Systems is headquartered in Friedrichshafen in southern Germany and employs around 9,000 people. The product portfolio includes mtu-brand high-speed engines and propulsion systems for ships, power generation, heavy land, rail and defence vehicles and for the oil and gas industry as well as diesel and gas systems and battery containers for mission critical, standby and continuous power, combined generation of heat and power, and microgrids.
- Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces and navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.
- Annual underlying revenue was £11.76 billion in 2020 and we invested £1.25 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 28 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
- Rolls-Royce Holdings plc is a publicly traded company (LSE:RR., ADR: RYCEY, LEI: 213800EC7997ZBLZJH69).