Use of methanol fuels will reduce ship emissions

article picture: Use of methanol fuels will reduce ship emissions


With the advent of constantly tightening IMO regulations on the environmental emissions in maritime traffic, new solutions for ship fuels are sorely needed. Shipyards are starting to turn to methanol, a promising and viable ”green” fuel alternative.

To reduce ship emissions, new types of non-fossil fuels are called for.

A system that supplies methanol fuel to ship engines could be useful in stopping environmental emissions of, say, SOx and NOx emissions, as well as harmful particulates.

”Pilot projects for the use of methanol in marine engines started around 2015. However, large-scale utilisation of methanol did not commence until 2022,” says Mr. John Bergman , CEO of Auramarine based near Turku in Finland. The company has a long history of various marine fuel supply solutions.

”These days, shipyards in China and South Korea are largely resorting to methanol-fuel engines in their shipbuilding. Methanol fuels are a growing market, with many shipowners considering methanol conversions for their existing fleets.”

Within Auramarine, the development of methanol supply units and other methanol- fuel solutions was started in 2020. The task was given to a team of fifteen R&D engineers.

”One of our first clients in this field is the Swedish shipowner Terntank who is currently having three new ships under construction at a Chinese shipyard. Auramarine will deliver methanol-fuel equipment for them – including automation and accessories – by June 2024. Other projects are ongoing or being finalised,” Mr. Bergman mentions.


In an era of constantly tightened international regulations on ship emissions, increasing the use of methanol fuel in ship engines is an obvious choice.

According to Mr. Bergman, the specifications of methanol-fuel systems are typically determined on a case-by-case basis according to ship and engine types.

In Auramarine’s solution, the methanol supply unit will provide methanol from the service tank to the master fuel valve while regulating the flow, pressure and temperature of the methanol. When combined with filtration, this ensures its suitability for use in engines. The system actively maintains the supply pressure within the specified tolerances in the course of any load changes.

“To cut greenhouse gas emissions, methanol is one of the most viable clean fuels,” notes Bergman.

John Bergman, CEO, Auramarine Ltd.

”There are many variables in the design of optimal systems. Also, the overall reduction of the ship’s emissions is based on several factors. Even the quality of the methanol fuel being utilisted can be relevant.”

”In accordance with IMO regulations, ships running on alternative fuels need to have a back-up fuel system for MGO marine diesel oil. Even with ships utilising methanol as the main fuel type, some 5 to 10 percent of MGO is generally needed as ignition fuel. With a combination of green methanol and bio oil as ignition fuel, emissions can be significantly reduced,” Bergman points out.

”When existing ships are converted for methanol fuel, possibly new fuel tanks are required. The necessary space for them just has to be found somewhere on board.”

Auramarine Methanol Supply Unit.


Typically, Auramarine will deliver the methanol supply system hardware – apart from the fuel tanks – as well as the fueling system with methanol supply pipes, junctions, balancing pumps, sensors, valve units, and automation, including software.

”Quite a lot of automation is required. Methanol is a fuel with a low temperature flash-point so the automation systems need to be approved by the marine shipping classification company. This type of automation is Auramarine’s core expertise and know-how,” Bergman adds.

”Our R&D engineering department has invested heavily in this field as we see it is essential for the future of marine traffic.”

The equipment is manufactured either at Auramarine’s own factory in Shanghai, China, or by trusted manufacturing partners in Finland.

”Asia is our main market area. Our Shanghai factory has been in operation for 22 years already. Currently, China and South Korea are the leading shipbuilders worldwide in terms of volume.”

”The system will be delivered ready for assembly to our customers who in turn will install the system on board. Auramarine will then handle the testing at sea,” explains Bergman.


According to Mr. Bergman, the particularly challenging part in the development work is that the technology is quite innovative and therefore new for everybody involved.

”Acquiring knowledge of the whole system is a full-time learning process. Optimising the ship emission reductions has to be worked on a ship-by-ship and engineby- engine basis. There’s a whole lot of variables to be considered.”

Furthermore, the type of methanol fuel being utilised in ship engines can be significant.

”Some types of methanol are being manufactured by using fossil fuels while other types may be synthetically produced from environmentally friendly raw materials. Such differences have an effect on the total environmental impact of methanol.”

Auramarine Methanol Supply System – Full fuel system from design to commissioning and lifecycle services.


The Auramarine supply unit is designed to fit on closed and Ex rated hazardous areas where fire-safety is of paramount importance. The health and safety guidelines have been taken into account.

This level of safety is achieved by using self-draining mechanical design in conjunction with the nitrogen inerting process and specially designed configurations to any serviceable methanol line segments. Also, all components and electric equipment will be selected for demanding use in a hazardous area.

In order to minimize the volumes of electrical equipment in a hazardous area, the electrical cabinets and control panels are designed to be fitted separately to a safe area.

Auramarine’s methanol supply system is suitable for all types of ships, regardless of ship size.

”The key requirement is that the ship will need an engine that is compatible with methanol fuel. Quite often, some kind of methanol conversion for the ship engine will be required,” Bergman explains.

In his view, the demand for methanol supply systems will skyrocket in the near future.

”Green technology is becoming increasingly important for the maritime industries. A large portion of the world trade is currently being transported by sea. For such goals, clean fuel technology would be just the thing.”

by: Ari Mononen

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