MAN upgrading four-stroke engines for future green fuels

By Jack Burke29 November 2021

Retrofit solutions coming in 2022

MAN Energy Solutions said by 2022 it will offer four-stroke engines capable of being retrofitted to burn methanol and will have engines capable of burning methanol by 2024.

The company said the solutions will enable its customers to exploit a multitude of synthetically manufactured, climate-neutral fuels in the operation of ships or power plants.

Already today, MAN engines using power-to-X fuels such as synthetic natural gas (SNG) can be operated totally climate-neutrally.

MAN customers will in due course be able to use other, so-called ‘future fuels’ –such as ammonia, methanol and hydrogen – also produced in a climate-neutral manner. While these fuels are not currently available on the market, their use in MAN units will, however, be possible through the incipient start-up of green-fuel production facilities. These, in turn, will further reduce harmful emissions and reliably meet future, stricter environmental requirements and regulations.

“Green future-fuels are key to the decarbonization of shipping,” said Marita Krems, head of the Four-Stroke Marine Engines Division at MAN Energy Solutions, outlining the importance of the issue. “By 2050, greenhouse gas emissions in ship transport must decrease by at least 50%. We will therefore make future-proof solutions available to our customers, which will make the diversified use of green fuels possible – both for new engines and engines in the existing fleet.”

Even today, MAN customers can fall back on the use of biofuels as ship fuel in order to reduce emissions.

“Sustainably produced biofuels, for example those derived from waste woods, can reduce CO2 output by up to 85%,” said Krems. “In 2022, we will offer engines that are designed for later conversion – if required – to methanol operation. From 2024, we will make solutions for the use of methanol in four-stroke engines available.”

The company also has its sights firmly set on the use of ammonia.

“In container ships with a two-stroke engine, ammonia will certainly play a decisive role and such an engine will be available from 2024,” Krems said. “When it comes to the four-stroke segment, we have already discussed the relevance of this fuel in great detail with our customers. Cruise ships or ferries, for example, are basically floating cities and have especially high safety standards. Here, we only see options for ammonia’s use if initial, positive operating experiences have been gathered in other segments.

“As soon as there is a demand for an ammonia solution, we will be ready,” Krems said. “With our two-stroke engines, we are the pioneers when it comes to ammonia and we have the necessary, developmental competence. Together with partners – as part of the ‘AmmoniaMot’ research project – we have already defined the steps necessary for the development of a four-stroke, multi-fuel engine that can also operate on ammonia. As soon as relevant fields of application emerge, we will be able to handle them.”

In all this, MAN Energy Solutions continues to follow the concept it has built up over several generations. “In addition to new engines, we are also always thinking in terms of retrofitting the existing fleet,” said Bernd Siebert, Head of Four-Stroke Retrofitting at MAN PrimeServ, MAN Energy Solutions after-sales brand. “Ships have a lifetime of several decades. After retrofitting, engines already in the field have the same capabilities as our new engines. This is how we safeguard, not only the climate, but also our customers’ investment.”

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