Marine Service GmbH, the marine consultancy for the design and development of any kind of shipping projects based in Hamburg, Germany, starts its SMM-premiere with a world first: the LNG Fuel Tank Container.
Developed as a mobile LNG tank, the 40 feet standard container provides a reliable and safe solution for two of the main issues concerning the use of LNG as marine fuel: overcoming the limited availability of LNG as fuel due to the lack of infrastructure and the provision of a safe technical setup for the retrofit and operation of existing fleets.
Worldwide LNG is considered as one of the most promising alternatives for the classic oil-fired diesel propulsion used in shipping – in particular regarding the intensification of the emission directive in the ECAs that enters into force in 2015. One of the key problems regarding the change towards an environmental friendly gas is the limited or better not existing infrastructure outside of Scandinavia. “Worldwide there are only a few LNG bunker facilities outside of Norway. Ships, intending nowadays to use LNG as fuel, are facing considerable supply problems in availability and bunkering“, says Jörg Redlin, Director Marketing & LNG Division at Marine Service. “With regard to the multi- million investments needing to be taken for providing LNG fuelled ships with a global infrastructure of not just conventional bunker facilities, we suppose this process to exceed 2015.”
Until then, the Marine Service LNG Fuel Tank Container provides a practicable and technically safe and reliable alternative. “The container can be considered as a replaceable and rechargeable battery“, explains Redlin. “The LNG Fuel Tank Containers can be loaded aboard like every other IMDG container. Ships using these containers will be independent of the availability of sophisticated LNG bunker facilities.” After filling the container within the safe environment of a LNG terminal including its suitable facilities and specially trained personnel, the LNG Fuel Tank Containers can be transported to each required destination by sea, rail and/or road. “Thanks to the vacuum insulation the containers can be stored intermediately up to 80 days, before the pressure inside of the container reaches the set value of the safety vent.” Strength wise the construction allows stacking up the filled containers to six layer high.
Another key issue for ship owners is the cost for the modification of the existing fleets – in case the ship design allows modifications. While the reconstruction of the propulsion machinery is a demanding but solvable task, the integration of dedicated, separate LNG tanks is a challenging and cost-intensive mission. Up to date there are about 30 LNG fueled ships sailing the seas – mostly in Norway – plus a number of LNG carriers using also LNG as fuel. That means the majority of the world’s fleet may be subject to modification for matching the emission directives of the ECA with the support of LNG.
Here LNG Fuel Tank Containers position themselves as attractive alternatives, too. Instead of complex modifications to integrate permanently installed tanks in the existing concepts, LNG Fuel Tank Containers can be stacked aboard and connected with dry- quick-couplings to the gas handling system and the fuel supply system serving the modified gas fuelled engine. “The concept of the Marine Service LNG Fuel Gas System is designed for on deck stowing for safety reasons“, says Redlin.
Supply and control of the required gas pressure for the propulsion system is managed by a separate gas handling plant and the gas control valve unit. This gas handling plant can be arranged in a separate container and placed next to the LNG Fuel Tank Containers. The LNG Fuel Gas Supply System, developed by Marine Service, was approved in principle by Bureau Veritas in July 2011. “With the LNG Fuel Tank Container, the safe connections by the dry quick couplings and the existing infrastructure for IMDG containers, Marine Service provides the optimised solution for matching the FC A regulations“, says Redlin.
LNG World News Staff, September 6, 2012; Image: Marine Service