Synthetic gas produced by wind power may fuel container ship soon

MAN Energy Solutions and Wessels Marine GmbH are partnering to use liquefied SNG (synthetic natural gas) produced from renewable electrical energy as a drop-in fuel for a container ship.

The retrofitted Wes Amelie will use SNG, replacing 20 tons of LNG with SNG on board the ship for an upcoming round trip. The companies are cooperating on the Wes Amelie project with Nauticor, the LNG transportation company, and Unifeeder, the charter company.

 Automobile manufacturer Audi’s Power-to-Gas facility in Werlte, where a liquefaction plant is currently under construction, will provide the SNG, which will be generated by wind energy and is thus 100 percent climate-neutral. The SNG trip will take place after the completion of the liquefaction plant in the second quarter of 2020, according to the report.

The Wes Amelie, owned and managed by Wessels Reederei (Haren/Ems), two years ago retrofitted its MAN 8L48/60B main engine to its current, four-stroke MAN 51/60DF unit that enables dual-fuel operation — the first such conversion of its type, the company says.

 “We strongly believe that a roadmap based on LNG and SNG as fuels can lead the way to a decarbonized future for shipping and, in Wessels Marine, we have the perfect partner,” said Stefan Eefting, head of MAN PrimeServ in Augsburg. “To bring down future emissions generated in the global-trade supply chain, synthetic fuels play a crucial role. Especially in shipping, the use of batteries alone is not a viable option and any successful decarbonization efforts need to address the fuel.”

MAN Energy Solutions commissioned the Werlte-based methanation plant, in partnership with Audi, in 2013. While the 6 MW methanation unit is still the largest of its kind in Europe today, MAN now offers a 50 MW EPC Power-to-X solution to ramp up the generation of synthetic fuel.

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  • Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the online POWERGEN+ series. He is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper journalist and trade publication editor. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and

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