Marine methanol - a cheaper, safer, alternative to LNG (marinemethanol.com)
Marine Methanol - new wonder fuel
  • George Coman You have a point, Peter in regards to the developing world, especially the BRIC countries, being the main source of man made pollution. The standards are different and regardless of what you guys do in the UK or what we do in Canada, there isn't much that's going to change.
    I also agree the developed world economies are losing jobs over going green.
    However, I believe that the marine industry can be the one to drive the global change in attitude towards the environment. And that's due to it being regulated unanimously by the IMO.
    Are we implementing "green" the right way in the marine industry, most definitely no and the ship you are sailing on is the perfect example with its non functioning SCR plant.
    I think there is also a thing we are missing out on right now: the harmful effects of releasing methane into the atmosphere, so I will start another topic about the actual benefits of the Natural Gas as a fuel for IC engines.
  • Peter Griffin Mihai,
    Dust particles in the lower atmosphere don't stay there, the first time it rains they are washed out and become part of the Soil or the Sea. They cannot grow exponentially, (Google the definition of the word) If they go into the upper atmosphere, above the clouds, they act like a mirror and reflect the Sun's energy back into space, cooling the planet. ( some of the suggestions for cooling the Planet involve putting reflective nano particles into the upper atmosphere) As I said before, the quantity of man made dust is insignificant, recently we have had bad atmospheric pollution in the UK, much of which was the result of Dust storms in the Sahara desert blowing fine sand into our air.
    The particles that are a risk to human health are those in the 2.5 Micron diameter range, smaller and larger do not spear to be a problem.
    Developing countries, such as China & India, already contribute more to global energy consumption and pollution than the "Old " economies of Europe and North America. They are building huge numbers of coal fired power stations because they produce the cheapest electricity, they are unwilling to sacrifice profits and economic growth for the sake of the Planet. Even if the UK became carbon Neutral overnight that wouldn't have any noticeable effect on the Global level of pollution, which would continue to grow as fast as before.

    Our efforts at growing "Green" have led to a loss of jobs and reduced economic growth compared to China. Do we want the only jobs that our Children and Grandchildren will be able to find, to be as "Houseboys" or other Domestic servants for Middle Class Chinese and Indians? Or maybe we should sell our children to rich Asians for use in spare part surgery?

    The Carnot cycle is an ideal theoretical cycle, as such it is a law of Physics comparable to Newton's Force = Mass x Acceleration or Einstein's Energy = 1/2 Mass x the speed of light in Vacuo. It is not suddenly going to be changed because you don't like it.

    Unfortunately, although the climate change proponents can produce data that appears to indicate that the climate was warming, from the early 1800's up to the 1950's, it does not appear to have warmed since, a very inconvenient fact which they choose to hide and ignore. But again, there was a massive Volcanic eruption in 1816, which led to several years of Global cooling until the excess dust, over normal,had all been washed out of the Atmosphere.
    The ship I am sailing on at present is supposed to be Green, it has a SCR plant, to inject Urea into Exhaust Gas catalysts, but they only work when the engines run at full power otherwise the exhaust temperature is too low for it to function. The ship is a Diesel Electric PSV and spends most of its time working in DP, or " standing by" with the engines running at less than 20%. On passage the charterers want us to steam at Eco speed to save fuel. It was very wasteful and harmful to the environment to make and fit this equipment, but we could only use it a few hours each month, but the cost of fitting and maintaining it increases the running costs of the ship and in a competitive market mean tha ships without the equipment will find profitable work before we do..
  • Mihai Peter, you are right about the particulate matter being also dust. However, the soot is the one that is the darkest. And the one more problematic for the ice and snow. What happens is the ice becomes darker, hence absorbs more light, heating up faster and melting earlier.
    There is an article in National Geographic explaining how it all works http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140610-connecting-dots-dust-soot-snow-ice-climate-change-dimick/
    So you are right about the ice melting and absorbing the heat, the problem is that it does so at the wrong time of the year, when it should be still solid.
    The other issue is that since the dirty ice melts faster, the volume of water released at one time is higher. And that causes floods.
    The other thing that happens is the dust particles in the atmosphere grow exponentially due to the phenomena described above. The hotter it is, the drier is going to be, hence the more dust will be blown by the winds.
    There is no doubt in my mind that soot has a lot to do with the global warming. Is the marine industry the main perpetrator, definitely not. Can we help slowing down the harm being done to the planet by implementing cleaner technologies, that's a definite Yes.
    So I think methanol can help a bit.

    When it comes to the Carnot cycle, I do not doubt it being the most efficient we have today. What I doubt is the statement that it is the best it can ever be conceived. And to me it seems like the kind of thinking that Beaumont, Savery, Newcomen and eventually Watt had to overcome when they came up with the steam engine.
    So what I am saying is that we need more geniuses like those to come up with a solution that would move us past the stage we are at.
    And to conclude, the IMO, s air pollution regulations are changing the diesel engines as we know them, making them harder to fix and less reliable overall. That's why there is a push for alternative fuels.
  • Peter Griffin My understanding is that on an average year vastly more SOX and particulate matter is produced from Volcanoes and Forest Fires than is "Man Made".
    I do not understand Mihai's comment,about Ice. As the ice melts, it will absorb latent heat from the surroundings and cool them!!! ( you don't put ice in your drink to warm it up) The ice melting most definitely does not warm it's surroundings, it cools them. I understand that the snow and ice reflect a lot of the Solar radiation back out of our atmosphere, so that once the ice has melted, the "Earth's Passive Solar Gain" increases, and that could potentially warm the Planet. However, last year one of the Polar Ice Caps increased in size, while the other shrank! The main problem with this argument is that nobody has any records of the Ice limits over a long period, it was simple impossible to measure until the sky was filled with satellites. Records by the old whalers, sealers and Arctic & Antarctic explorers shows huge variations in the ice cover from year to year going back hundreds of years. We know that during the last Ice Age, the Glaciers reached the Middle of England and we do not want that happening again, in our lifetime! Like most things in the Climate there are multiple layers of underlying cycles, some rapid like El Nino, some over just a few centuries and some taking Millions of years.
    With regard to the inefficiency of Reciprocating engines Mihai is clearly wrong. Carnot worked out the maximum efficiency of Thermodynamic cycles, in his Carnot cycle a long time ago, and the Carnot cycle still rules!
    The efficiency of any engine is determined, fundamentally by the ratio of the highest temperature to the lowest temperature in the engine cycle. This is one reason why World speed records are usually made at Dawn, because the lower the ambient air temperature the more efficient any Engine is, Petrol Diesel, Gas Turbine or Boiler and turbine.
    All engines have ambient air temperature as the base line, (Unless it is a steam plant with a water cooled condenser, in which case it is the water temperature if colder than air) so the higher you can make the peak temperature, the more efficient the engine, right?
    If a turbine blade is continually soaked in a flow of gas, such as in a turbine, the blade will be operating at the Gas temperature, which has to be limited to below the point at which the blade starts to become soft and lose its mechanical strength. (Some of the latest Gas Turbine designs have hollow blades with cooling air blown through them to enable the blades to run in higher gas temperatures, but this means a thicker blade profile, which reduces the efficiency of the gas flow)
    In a reciprocating engine, the gas temperature varies through the cycle and the piston crown, cylinder head and liner are only exposed to the peak temperature instantaneously before the gas is cooled by expansion before being exhausted and replaced by cold air. This enables much higher peak temperatures to be obtained during combustion, without weakening the materials used.
    So, the reciprocating engine is inherently more efficient than a rotary engine.
    A typical Power station steam turbine plant is about 30% efficient, a modern stand alone diesel will be about 40% efficient and a large Marine Diesel, with an exhaust gas turbo alternator and exhaust gas boiler and Steam Turbo alternator can achieve over 50% plant efficiency.
    There are already rotary engines using the Wankel design, pioneered in Germany and used in Mazda sports cars for years, but because of problems sealing the rotors, the design never became mainstream. I believe the same basic design is widely used in car air conditioning compressors, where the running environment is less harsh..
    With regard to SOX Marpol has already introduced SOX reduction measures, in European waters all ships have to burn MGO with less than 0.1% Sulpur.
    The worst damage caused by particulate matter is in the developing World, where women cook all the food over open fires, often indoors, in houses without chimneys, it seriously reduces their life expectancy. Particulate matter is only a fancy word for dust, it is everywhere. I agree that in City centres there can be a high concentration of particulate matter from vehicle exhausts which is a problem locally, globally it gets washed out of the atmosphere by rain and ceases to be a problem. Cities are a special problem in management of all resources because of the dense concentration of population and require different treatment to the suburbs and countryside, because they have different problems..
  • Walter Reid Project Engineer at Royal Caribbean Well, it looks like this subject opens up the old environmentalist's conversation: what will you chose between the tree and the roll of soft toilet paper when you are alone in your bathroom stall :)
    I think methanol is better than LNG as it requires less of a headache for the same results.
  • Mihai I agree, there is such thing as global warming. And the way it works with particulate matter from diesel exhaust is falling back to the ground on top of the snow and causing it to melt faster, hence everything gets warmer.
    As for crude oil reserves, I agree we have way more than the oil companies want us to believe.
    The problem I think is in the inherent design of the internal combustion engines, that are extremely inefficient machines. Remember, the reciprocating engine has its main component going with all its might one way, then stopping and going with all its might the other way. So as much as the steam engine was a marvelous invention for its age, I believe we need the same kind of a marvelous invention to take us out of the Reciprocating Engine Age.
  • Sebastian Third Engineer at Swire Well, the reason the world has been moving towards LNG is to get rid of the harmful effects of burning conventional diesel. That is SOx, causing acid rain and particulate matter, causing respiratory diseases and lung cancer.
    The reason LNG has become an alternative is because it produces neither of those two.
    But neither is methanol. Also, methanol doesn't require cryogenic tanks and all.
    As for the source of methanol, conventional crude is a great source, oil well has also.
    Not to be confused with ETHANOL, that is made out of food crops.
    And global warming is real by the way!
  • Peter Griffin Just heard on the news this morning that a new oil field has been discovered, on dry land, in the South of England, estimated to be enough oil to make the UK self sufficient again, for years.....
    Whatever happened to "Peak Oil" and all the doom sayers that insisted the lights were going to go out by 2020 when the oil ran out?

    In this case it sounds like they are converting Methane into Methanol to make it easier and safer to transport. No one will say what the energy loss is in the conversion process.

    Same as the US Navy, they have built a plant to strip CO2 out of the atmosphere and electrolyse Sea Water for Hydrogen and then combine the Carbon and Hydrogen into Jet fuel, fine for a Nuclear carrier where there is no cost at all for the reactor supplying extra power, but the energy use would be prohibitive elsewhere.

    There is also the option to use electrolysis of water to produce Hydrogen and Oxygen and store them, using them to power fuel cells to generate electricity, or indeed Gas turbines, Boilers or Engines, but again a lot of energy is wasted in the cycle.
    Both of the above would become viable for the storage of Energy and use in Transport systems, if a cheap, primary energy source was available from either improved Nuclear Fission reactors or Nuclear Fusion reactors.

    The use of Bio Ethanol, most cheaply made from Sugar Cane, has been blamed for driving up Food Prices as has growing plants to produce Bio Diesel, any increase in cultivated land for fuel has to be either at the expense of "Virgin" Jungle or existing food production.

    Alternative fuels such as Methane from Sewage and Municipal waste are attractive, if they are cost effective. The gasification of coal underground, by drilling into the seams and piping the gas out makes a useful resource out of Coal seams that are too narrow or dangerous to work conventionally.
    Methyl Hydrate, frozen methane Gas is lying on the Sea floor in massive quantities, just waiting to be exploited.
    All these sources could potentially be converted into Methanol, if the price was right.

    LPG is available in large quantities and is much cheaper than LNG, but there is, as yet, only a very limited distribution network.


    I find all the alternative fuels fascinating, but they are all vastly more expensive than "conventional" fuels, when you allow for the infrastructure that has to be built to make them practical outside the Lab. All the research and investment has been driven by the assumption that we are running out of conventional fuels, and that as a result, fuel prices will inevitable rise astronomically, however that has been disproved recently. RIGHT NOW the cheapest way to produce power is from Coal Fired Power Stations. In the Western World, the Coal Burners are being heavily taxed to subsidise "Green Energy" a massive destruction of wealth that is destroying energy intensive industries such as Iron and Steel, Aluminium production, foundries, and Petrochemicals, throughout Europe, and shifting employment prospects and Economic growth to countries that haven't signed up to the Global Warming Agenda.

    Some of the Greens are Religious zealots as bad as ISIL, it is impossible to reason with them in terms of Engineering or Economics, they have absolute unshakeable beliefs that, unfortunately in my opinion, are as bizarre as believing that the Earth is Flat, and that the Universe rotates around the planet Earth.

    When England was a Roman Colony, the Romans grew grapes and made Wine as far North as Scotland, when the Coal seams in the UK were laid down, our climate was tropical, there are fossilised remains of Tropical Plants in the coal seams. Not much evidence of Global warming there!!. It is well known that the Earth has been through many different "Ice Ages" with warmer periods in between. this a naturally recurring cycle. It is thought that the ice Ages may have been triggered by massive Volcanic eruptions or meteor strikes filling the atmosphere with dust that reflected the Sun's heat. The heat output of the Sun itself varies.
    During Victorian times, the River Thames froze in the centre of London and frost fairs were held on the River, with Hog Roasts, skating etc being held in the middle of the Thames. This was called a "Mini Ice Age" and when I was at School I was told that another Ice Age was due.
    There is no normal or Natural temperature for the Planet or composition of the Earth's atmosphere, it varies with time.
    When the Earth was formed the atmosphere was largely water vapour, Methane Gas, Ammonia and CO2, as the Earths temperature slowly fell and the Water vapour condensed out of the Atmosphere the first plants developed, using photosynthesis to turn CO2 into Oxygen, this was the first time free Oxygen had existed in the Planets atmosphere, and it reacted with the Ammonia and Methane and destroyed them, eventually raising Oxygen levels to the ones we know.
    However, Horticulturalists have long known that they can increase growth rates and the Health of plants grown in Poly Tunnels or Glass Houses, by increasing the CO2 levels. They often pipe the exhaust gas from their heating systems to the plants.
    Oxygen is air pollution created by plants and totally un-natural!!
  • George Coman It does seem like this is the way to go. No cryogenic storage issues, no boil-off and no bad media campaigns. I think there is a company in Vancouver, BC that's the leader in marine methanol implementation.
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