Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (MES) has completed the world’s first ME-GIE ethane-operated two-stroke diesel engine. The engines will be for propulsion of three ethylene carriers, which will also carry ethane as cargo.
The Mitsui-MAN B&W 7G50ME-C9.5-GIE is the first engine in a series of three for installation in three LEG (liquefied ethylene gas) carriers of 36,000 m3 for Hartmann Schiffahrt of Germany and Ocean Yield of Norway, being built at Sinopacific Offshore Engineering (SOE) in China.
MAN Diesel & Turbo reports that ethane was chosen as fuel, in preference to HFO, due to its more competitive pricing as well as the significantly shorter bunkering time it entails. As a fuel, its emissions profile is also superior to HFO – in which respect it is similar to methane – and compared to HFO contains negligible sulphur, 15-20 percent lower CO2 and emits significantly fewer particles during combustion. MAN Diesel & Turbo also states that the ME-GI engines will be set up such that they can easily be converted to run on methane as an alternative, as per the owner’s wish.
MAN Diesel & Turbo currently has eight ME-GIE engines on order.
The ME-GI engine gives shipowners and operators the option of utilizing fuel or gas depending on relative price and availability, as well as environmental considerations. The ME-GI uses high-pressure gas injection that allows it to maintain the numerous positive attributes of MAN B&W low-speed engines that have made them the default choice of the maritime community. MAN Diesel & Turbo said it sees significant opportunities arising for gas-fuelled tonnage as fuel prices rise and modern exhaust-emission limits tighten. Research indicates that the ME-GI engine delivers reductions in CO2, NOx and SOx emissions. Furthermore, the ME-GI engine’s negligible fuel slip makes it the most environmentally friendly technology available
. An ME-LGI counterpart that uses LPG, methanol and other liquid gasses is also available, and has already been ordered.
While ME-GI engines have been designed for use by several, different fuel types to date, ethane is a new departure. Ethane is one of the natural-gas liquids (NGLs) that are naturally occurring elements found in natural gas (and frequently separated removed and sold as a separate product), and include propane and butane, among others.