Rolls-Royce, Woodward L'Orange and WTZ Roßlau want to develop a high-speed combustion engine for ships by the end of 2025. The highlight: It is to run CO2-neutrally with green methanol.
The three companies confirmed the goal at a kick-off meeting in Friedrichshafen. Since the beginning of January, they have been working on the "MeOHmare" joint project, which is receiving €8 million in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).
"We are grateful for the funding and are convinced that with this experienced alliance of engine manufacturer, injection system supplier and research institute, we will successfully put the methanol engine on the water," said Dr. Daniel Chatterjee, who is responsible for technology strategy and sustainability at alliance coordinator Rolls-Royce Power Systems.
Hydrogen to methanol
If methanol is produced using the power-to-X process, CO2-neutral operation is possible. The background: green hydrogen can be further processed into so-called e-methanol by synthesis, with the addition of CO2 from the air.
"We see methanol as the future fuel for ships. It is a fuel that is already used in the chemical industry and will be produced green in the future," says Dr. Daniel Chatterjee.
The BMWK is funding the development as part of the "Maritime Research Program." The funding program has an annual funding volume of around €60 million.
New fuel methanol
He said that methanol, a new fuel for shipping, requires significant changes to the engine concept.
"The focus of development activities is on redesigning the combustion process with the fuel system, turbocharging and engine control as well as all fuel-interacting engine subsystems," explains Mathias Müller, project manager at Rolls-Royce Power Systems and joint coordinator of MeOHmare.
Woodward L'Orange, a manufacturer of injection systems for large engines based in Stuttgart, Germany, plans to completely redevelop the high-performance injection systems in the project.
"So far, there are no production-ready injection systems for high-speed methanol marine engines. Methanol is a demanding fuel due to its properties. That's why new materials and injector concepts have to be introduced," explains Dr. Michael Willmann, Director Technology at Woodward L'Orange.
The non-profit research institution Wissenschaftlich-Technisches Zentrum Roßlau will be responsible for setting up a methanol endurance test rig, testing injection components and developing a methanol feed pump as part of the collaboration.
"With this project, we are laying the foundation for the establishment of a test center for the validation of injection systems with alternative fuels," explains Dr.-Ing. Christian Reiser, CEO at WTZ Roßlau gGmbH.