Rolls-Royce working on methanol-fueled high speed marine engine

Written by Nick Blenkey
Partners in methanol fueled high speed engine prlect

L to R: Philipp Bobsin (Project Management Jülich), Mathias Müller (Rolls-Royce Power Systems), Dr. Michael Willmann (Woodward L’Orange), Dr. Ing. Christian Reiser (WTZ) and Dr. Daniel Chatterjee (Rolls-Royce Power Systems).

Could a methanol-fueled MTU high speed marine engine be not too far away? Following up on ambitions announced at last year’s SMM event, Rolls-Royce Power Systems and two partner companies have been working since the beginning of the year on a project that will see it develop an engine concept based on the MTU Series 4000 that will be designed for low-emission, CO2-neutral and economical operation of ships using methanol as a fuel.

Rolls-Royce, fuel injection specialist Woodward L’Orange and non-profit research institution WTZ Roßlau are partnered in a new joint project called “MeOHmare,” which is receiving EUR 8 million in funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection. The goal is to develop a concept for a high-speed internal combustion engine for ships that can run on green methanol in a CO2-neutral manner by the end of 2025.

Methanol, as a new fuel for shipping, requires significant changes to the engine concept.

“The focus of development activities is on redesigning the combustion process with fuel system, turbocharging and engine control as well as all fuel-interacting engine subsystems,” says Mathias Müller, project manager at Rolls-Royce Power Systems and MeOHmare’s project coordinator.

Woodward L’Orange, the Stuttgart-based manufacturer of injection systems for large engines, will 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,” says Dr. Michael Willmann, director of technology at Woodward L’Orange. “Methanol is a challenging fuel due to its properties. That’s why new materials and injector concepts have to be introduced.”

WTZ 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 alliance.

“With this project,” says Dr.-Ing. Christian Reiser, CEO at WTZ Roßlau, “We are laying the foundation for the establishment of a test center for the validation of injection systems with alternative fuels.”

Rolls-Royce’s business unit Power Systems will develop an engine concept based on the mtu Series 4000 that will be designed for low-emission, CO2-neutral and economical operation of ships with methanol. Climate and environmental friendliness as well as the highest possible power density of the propulsion system are the particular focus of the development.

“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 get the methanol engine on the water,” says Dr Daniel Chatterjee, responsible for technology strategy and sustainability at alliance coordinator Rolls-Royce Power Systems

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