Led by Safetytech Accelerator, established by Lloyd’s Register, the Methane Abatement in Maritime (MAM) is a technology acceleration programme whose activities will initially be supported by seven partners: Maran Gas Maritime, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), Carnival Corp. & 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, the group 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 shipowners 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.
LNG-powered cruise ships
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 all new ships (all types) will be powered by LNG by 2025. Since 2010, the number of ships fuelled by LNG has grown consistently by 20-40% per annum.
According to the Seatrade Cruise orderbook there are 27 cruise ships due for delivery between now and 2028 that will be LNG powered.
The world’s first LNG-powered cruise ship, AIDAnova, entered service in late 2018, followed by Costa Smeralda in 2020. Whilst many of the leading cruise operators are opting for LNG-powered cruise ships, some are not so convinced, Viking founder and Chairman Torstein Hagen has been outspoken on the subject calling LNG a ‘blind alley.'
Compared to traditional marine fuels, LNG is widely understood to generate less carbon dioxide and emit fewer nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter for the same propulsion power.
However, some analysis has indicated that the environmental benefits of using LNG could be negated due to the propensity to leak unburned methane through the combustion process.
A potent greenhouse gas
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 this initiative will help the industry to understand the extent of, and then manage, their methane emissions.
Measuring the scale
Measuring the scale of methane emissions, and understanding if they can be managed to negligible levels, will signal if liquefied bio methane and liquefied synthetic methane are viable pathway fuels to help achieve 2050 decarbonisation targets.
Safetytech Accelerator's Price 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.'
Carnival Corp. & plc
Tom Strang, SVP maritime affairs, Carnival Corp. & plc 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.'
He continued, '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.'
Lloyd’s Register's Mitrou added, '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.'