The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce Invests In Methanol Technology For Climate-Friendly Shipping

The title of this post, is the same as this press release from Rolls-Royce.

The press report starts with these bullet points.

  •  Rolls-Royce Power Systems to set standards in high-speed marine methanol engines
  •  New engines based on proven mtu technologies
  •  Methanol and synthetic diesel as key fuels of the future for climate-friendly engine operation
  •  Fuel cell another option on the way to climate-neutral ship operation

It then says this

Rolls-Royce is focusing on methanol as a fuel for climate-friendly shipping: Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems is currently working on mtu engines for use with methanol. The new high-speed four-stroke engines, which are based on proven mtu technologies, are planned to be available to customers as soon as possible for use in commercial ships and yachts.

This paragraph gives the reasons, why Rolls-Royce is in favour of methanol.

Methanol offers a number of advantages for Rolls-Royce’s efforts to make shipping more climate-friendly and ultimately climate-neutral: The fuel can be produced in a CO2-neutral manner in the so-called power-to-X process, in which CO2 is captured from the air. The energy density of methanol is high compared to other sustainable fuels and, thanks to its liquid state, it can be easily stored and refuelled at ambient temperatures. Existing infrastructure can continue to be used in many cases. Unlike ammonia, methanol is not highly toxic and is environmentally safe. The combustion of methanol in a pure methanol engine can be climate-neutral with significantly reduced nitrogen oxide emissions, thus eliminating the need for complex SCR exhaust gas aftertreatment. Methanol tanks can be flexibly arranged in the ship and require significantly lower safety measures compared to hydrogen or ammonia. Besides the safety aspects and the lower complexity, the lower investment costs for users are a further upside of the methanol tank system.

Methanol seems to be a convenient and safe fuel, which is easier to incorporate into the marine environment, than hydrogen or ammonia.

Wikipedia says this about methanol’s use in shipping.

Methanol is an alternative fuel for ships that helps the shipping industry meet increasingly strict emissions regulations. It significantly reduces emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter. Methanol can be used with high efficiency in marine diesel engines after minor modifications using a small amount of pilot fuel (Dual fuel).

Rolls-Royce certainly seem to be keen to use the fuel. They also seem to have the technology.

December 24, 2021 - Posted by | Energy | , , , , ,


  1. Methanol not toxic – not my recollection, even absorption through the skin can result in blindness (e.g. cheap gels). Described as “Toxic” and “harmful to health”.


    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | December 24, 2021 | Reply

    • It would appear that’s the only main problem, but if a ship tanks rupture, it’s safer than say with bunker fuel.

      Comment by AnonW | December 24, 2021 | Reply

  2. MTU and Rolls-Royce obviously don’t go Indycar racing.
    Indycar cars use methanol fuel. Trouble with the fuel is that if it ignites, unless oil is involved, the fire is not visible. Thankfully it is easily extinguished with water, but first you’ve got to know there’s a fire. Watch out for the drivers and pit mechanics jumping about in the YouTube video, they’re the ones on fire.

    Quite took me to my days as a student. Still methanol alone is not as dodgy as the witches brew including methanol and nitro methanol that late 1930s Grand Prix cars ran on.
    All good work for those carrying out the Safety Risk Analysis.

    Comment by fammorris | December 24, 2021 | Reply

  3. As Rools-Royce are being bullish about methanol, I suspect they’ve done the risk analysis. There are some, who are proposing methanol for powering aircraft.

    Comment by AnonW | December 24, 2021 | Reply

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