With methanol increasingly gaining attention as the likely next step in the transition to zero-emission fuels, Alfa Laval is rapidly developing the technologies needed to take this step. As a low flash point fuel, methanol poses significant challenges that require a new approach to fuel supply. After being a leader in fuel line solutions for traditional fuels, Alfa Laval has also been at the forefront with methanol, partnering with MAN Energy Solutions to develop a low point fuel system. flash (LFSS) for two-stroke ME-LGIM engines.
The Alfa Laval FCM (Fuel Conditioning Module) for methanol has now reached over 100,000 hours of operation, and the solution has been developed to meet the additional demands of methanol-fired four-stroke engines and Alfa Laval Aalborg boilers. .
“Shipowners will save space and energy by using the same LFSS for the main engine, auxiliary engines and methanol-fired boilers,” says Roberto Comelli, Commercial Manager, Fuel Conditioning Systems. “We can design an FCM Methanol system to manage the process parameters of multiple methane consumers, with automation that meets all of their different needs. “
“For Aalborg boilers, which are methanol-ready thanks to our MultiFlame burner concept, FCM Methanol guarantees the correct fuel parameters,” says Lars Skytte Jørgensen, Head of Technology Development, Energy Solutions. “All that remains is to fine-tune the combustion of methanol for maximum boiler efficiency, work already underway in large-scale trials at the Alfa Laval test and training center.
SWITCHING TO METHANOL HAS AN IMPACT ON THE ENERGY BALANCE
However, handling and burning methanol will only be one side of the methanol equation. Because methanol contains less energy than traditional fuels, it will also be necessary to rethink the use of energy on methanol-powered ships. Alfa Laval and its partners are developing complete high temperature proton exchange membrane (HTPEM) cells to supplement power generation, but a new approach to existing power sources will also be required.
“Waste heat recovery, which is generally overlooked on today’s ships, will be a key part of tomorrow’s methanol operations,” says Jørgensen. “There will be less demand for steam on board, but thermal energy will have to be used differently. Due to the low energy content of methanol and its higher price, shipowners will want to transform every part of the energy released into mechanical or electrical energy.
Alfa Laval approaches this broader energy picture with existing and new solutions. The Alfa Laval Aalborg Micro, for example, is already a well-established exhaust gas boiler. Connected to a combustion boiler, it will add steam to a shared steam drum, thus reducing the consumption of methanol by the burner. But it will also be possible to combine with a plate heat exchanger and the Alfa Laval E-PowerPack, a new solution based on the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC).
“ORC technology can generate electricity from any heat source on board, no matter how small,” Jørgensen explains. “By using the Aalborg Micro to produce hot water, rather than steam, shipowners will have a means easily convertible into additional energy. With fuel cells under development, ORC technology will help ships maintain their energy balance after switching to methanol. “