Alfa Laval helps MAN test LPG as a fuel

Apr 18 2019

In partnership with MAN Energy Solutions, Alfa Laval’s fuel conditioning module (FCM) LPG has undergone successful tests.

The tests were undertaken with the first 2-stroke, high-pressure marine engine to use LPG as fuel and it was also evaluated for use with ammonia.


The competitiveness of LPG as a fuel is increasing, Alfa Laval said. Not only does LPG virtually eliminate sulfur emissions, but it also has a lower cost than many other fuels and is easily available worldwide.


For these reasons and others, MAN Energy Solutions developed the new LPG-fuelled MAN B&W ME-LGIP marine engine. Alfa Laval, having provided fuel boosters for the first methanol-fuelled chemical tankers, was selected as a partner to develop, supply and test the engine’s low-flash point fuel supply system (LFSS).


“Given our previous work with MAN Energy Solutions in the area of low-flash point fuels, we were well acquainted with the specific challenges involved,” said Roberto Comelli, Alfa Laval’s Global Sales Manager Fuel Conditioning Systems. “Naturally, we were eager to continue our partnership and to build on the positive experience with methanol.”


The resulting booster system, Alfa Laval’s FCM LPG, is claimed to be the first proven solution to provide LPG to a high-pressure combustion engine for marine applications.


“On board, the FCM LPG will be run from the engine control room by the same people who usually deal with traditional fuels and equipment,” explained Comelli. “The FCM LPG automation safeguards engine performance offers the same ease of use found in other Alfa Laval products. That built-intelligence is key to reliability, efficiency and safety.”


“Legally there is nothing that now prohibits occasional venting of LPG into the atmosphere,” he added. “However, the relevant regulations and international guidelines make clear that venting of hydrocarbons should be avoided whenever possible. LPG is also heavier than air and does not disperse like LNG does, so it’s important to minimise the effects of unexpected venting event.”


In tests performed in Denmark at the MAN Energy Solutions Research Centre Copenhagen, the FCM LPG prototype was shown to meet – and even exceed – the fuel supply requirements of the MAN B&W ME-LGIP engine. Tests with the fuel valve train and a simulated engine load began in 2Q18, followed by online tests using the facility’s 4T50ME-X prototype engine in 1Q19.


“Both sets of test results verify the booster’s ramping functions and its ability to match the output pressure to our engine’s changing load,” said René Sejer Laursen, Promotion Manager at MAN Energy Solutions. “In fact, almost no influence from the engine load can be seen, which demonstrates the effectiveness of Alfa Laval’s automation and control.”


“This was a testing phase not only for the FCM LPG, but also for the ME-LGIP engine design,” said Comelli. “For Alfa Laval, it was a privilege to test the very first LPG booster system on the first 2-stroke marine engine to use LPG as fuel. As we move from the prototype FCM LPG towards a final marine design, we are proud to continue our long standing co-operation with MAN Energy Solutions in meeting the fuel needs of a changing marine industry.”


“We at MAN Energy Solutions see a strong potential in the use of ammonia as fuel,” said Laursen. “The FCM LPG has already been evaluated for the purpose, and we’ve seen that it can be made compatible with ammonia for only a small investment.”


A full technical paper about the Alfa Laval FCM LPG and the results achieved at the MAN test facility will be presented at the CIMAC Conference 2019, taking place in Vancouver, Canada, 10th–14th June.


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