A coalition of shipping leaders is launching today to identify, accelerate and advocate technology solutions for the maritime industry to measure and manage methane emissions activity.
In doing so, the Methane Abatement in Maritime (MAM) Innovation Initiative aims to minimise the environmental impact of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in shipping, whilst aiding the transition to future fuel solutions.
Led by Safetytech Accelerator, established by Lloyd's Register, MAM is a technology acceleration programme whose activities will initially be supported by seven partners: Maran Gas Maritime, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Carnival Corporation & Plc, Seaspan, Shell, Lloyd's Register and Knutsen Group. It will also draw on the expertise of academics, civil society, and other stakeholders, such as the National Physical Laboratory.
In its first year, members will seek to identify and pilot new technologies to monitor and reduce ‘methane slip’ from vessels fuelled by LNG. Once these solutions have been validated, the initiative will seek to endorse them to industry from 2023.
The MAM innovation Initiative will tackle how ship owners and operators can be encouraged to adopt proven abatement technology at scale.
The initiative will be chaired by Panagiotis Mitrou, Lloyd's Register's Global Gas Director, and directed by Safetytech Accelerator's Head of Partnerships, Steve Price.
The need to address methane slip
LNG has long been understood by the shipping industry as a bridging fuel to support its decarbonisation efforts - with campaign groups forecasting that over two-thirds of new ships will be powered by LNG by 2025. Since 2010 the number of vessels fuelled by LNG has grown consistently by 20-40% per annum.
Compared to traditional marine fuels, LNG is widely understood to generate less carbon dioxide (CO2), and emit less Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulphur Dioxide (Sox), and Particulate Matter (PM), for the same propulsion power.
However, some analysis has indicated that the environmental benefits of using LNG could be negated due to the propensity of LNG-vessels to leak unburned methane through the combustion process.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, estimated to have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 27-30 over 100 years, while CO2 has a GWP of 1 regardless of time period used.
Defining what constitutes negligible methane emissions, and then ensuring the sector meets that target, is therefore a vital imperative for an industry grappling with its climate footprint and increasingly using LNG as a transition fuel.
To date, there are no globally recognised methods for measuring methane slip – with a lack of available data and tools contributing to the issue.
It is hoped that the new solutions identified by the innovation initiative will help the industry to understand the extent of, and then manage, their methane emissions activities.
Measuring the scale of methane emissions, and understanding if they can be managed to negligible levels, will signal if Liquefied Bio Methane (LBM) and Liquefied synthetic methane (LSM) are viable pathway fuels to help achieve 2050 decarbonisation targets.
Steve Price, Head of Partnerships, Safetytech Accelerator, said:
“Shipping currently lacks the information and tools they need to accurately measure the amount of methane released by LNG-fuelled ships, and the extent of this impact.
“We believe that better information will allow the maritime industry to better understand the extent to which its LNG-fuelled ships are emitting methane.
“Understanding the extent of this methane slip will allow companies', society and policymakers understand LNG's real environmental impact. Empowering markets to channel investments to new technologies that can reduce methane slip, or to other transition fuels.”
Tom Strang, SVP Maritime Affairs, Carnival, said:
“LNG has consistently provided substantial benefits in maritime operations over time, including virtually zero sulfur and significantly reduced overall emissions, as the industry's most advanced fuel available to date,”
“As a leader in advancing LNG adoption for the cruise industry, we are pleased to participate alongside our partners in a strong coalition organized around fostering innovation and maximizing the positive impacts of LNG as a fuel in transition. Working together, our two-pronged approach to accelerating technologies in the areas of methane measurement and abatement will help drive specific, effective solutions for the larger maritime industry, in support of our shared decarbonisation ambitions.”
Andreas Spertos, EVP-Technical Director, Maran Gas Maritime Inc. (MGM), said:
“Maran Gas Maritime has long been convinced of the advantages of LNG as a clean burning fuel and as an alternative marine fuel. However, in light of the strong warming potential of methane releases to the atmosphere, keeping tight control over methane emissions is critical to ensure that LNG's overall GHG footprint delivers as much GHG reduction as possible versus conventional marine fuels.
“This will not only secure near term GHG emission reductions, but will also allow to fully develop gas based carbon neutral fuels such as biogas and synthetic methane. We are proud to be a partner in this new initiative aimed at accelerating the roll-out of methane emission monitoring and reduction technologies in the maritime sector, demonstrating Maran Gas Maritime's leadership in the stepwise decarbonization of the maritime industry.”
Jarle Oestenstad, Director Newbuilding and innovation, Knutsen, said
“Knutsen always strive to build and operate efficient vessel and minimizing emissions.
Knutsen have focused on minimizing Methane slip for a long time and methane slip has been an important evaluation factor for selection of machinery the last years.
“We hope this initiative from LR will give a positive impact for first getting methods of correctly measuring and in the end give important data for being able to optimize Methane slip abetment technologies such that we can get energy efficient and cost-effective way to reduce methane slip which also is easy to operate for the ship personnel.
“We hope that the initiative will lead to pilot projects. Knutsen would be interested in participating with a vessel for such potential pilots.”
Peter Jackson, Senior Vice President, Assets and Technology, Seaspan said
“The Methane Abatement In Maritime Innovation Initiative exemplifies the type of industry-wide collaboration that is required to benefit from opportunities, solve challenges and achieve significant change. We're excited to contribute our expertise, and to learn and benefit from the knowledge of our partners as we work to collectively develop the future of shipping”
Panos Mitrou, Global Gas Director, Lloyd's Register, said:
“The need to reduce the negative effects of global climate change becomes more urgent with each passing day. So it is critical that the industry does everything it can – as quickly as possible – to unlock the potential of LNG as a transition fuel. By convening industry members who have already made great strides in abating emissions across their fleets, we aim to share and promote best practices across the supply chain for the benefit of the entire sector.”
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Xinde Marine News.