FUELSAVE – dynamic hydrogen & methanol injection to improve engine efficiency

May 13 2021


FUELSAVE GmbH of Germany has developed a technology which injects hydrogen, oxygen, water & methanol into the engine in a specific way. The company claims to reduce OPEX costs by 10% – and has done a successful trial on a heavy lift vessel.

FUELSAVE GmbH of Walldorf, Germany, has developed FS MARINE+ to improve the thermal & volumetric efficiency of an engine by dynamically injecting hydrogen, oxygen, water & methanol into it.

 

To understand one part of how it works, consider how you can make a campfire burn more strongly by blowing on it.

 

The fire already has access to air but by being able to condition the combustion by optimizing the air/fuel ratio for an optimized stochiometric mix makes a big difference to how it burns, and the temperature of the combustion flame, i.e. with more oxygen available.

 

Similarly, on a ship engine, it is possible to make the engine fuel burn cleaner and more efficiently, by changing the conditions.

 

By adding hydrogen, the gases entering the engine have a higher energetic state and will ignite earlier without the risk of knocking.  The hydrogen & oxygen acts as a catalyst for the combustion of the main fuel, not a fuel source itself.

 

By adding oxygen, you make the gases burn better, but also hotter, which increases certain emissions, such as NOx emissions.

 

If you also add liquid methanol, it will extract heat from the engine as it evaporates, cooling the combustion, countering the increased temperature from adding oxygen & hydrogen. This will counteract the formation of NOx emissions while you still get the benefit of the cleaner, more efficient combustion. The cooler air will also be denser, so it increases the efficiency of the turbocharger and increases the thermal and volumetric efficiency of the engine.

 

The cleaner combustion with less soot & deposits, as reported by the engine service company and the customer, in turn, means that the wear on the engine is reduced for the same amount of ‘work’ as well as a longer lube-oil lifetime.

 

The fuel-saving effect is something similar as it happens with “premium fuels” available for your car, which achieve the required combustion pressure in the cylinder for ignition, with less fuel being used than with less good quality fuels. Therefore, you can achieve the same power output with less primary fuel.

 

By using the optimum amounts of hydrogen, oxygen, water, and methanol injected in different locations of the ship engine, FUELSAVE has shown on the MV Annette 25% in gross savings in primary fuel and over 16% in NET cost savings from the achieved fuel economies, while the company claims an average Co2 reduction to be around 8-15%

 

It has also reduced particulate emissions by 40 per cent, reduced NOx by 30 to 80 per cent, reduced engine wear by 50 percent, and reduced lube oil costs by 33 percent.

 

It means that the investment in the system on a tanker can make a payback in 2-3 years, the company says.

 

Also, having the system means it may be possible to replace some of your primary fuel with an alcohol distillate / methanol, which may be less expensive and is currently available in 90% of the top 100 major ports.

 

The system may have additional benefits if the vessel is running on biofuel, which can emit 60 per cent more NOx than conventional fuels, the company says.

 

But there does need to be careful modelling of the combustion process to work out how much hydrogen, oxygen, and liquid methanol to inject.

 

The injection process is called “dynamic load-based injection” and the overall process is called “combustion conditioning”.

 

The hydrogen is generated on-site by electrolysing water.

 

The inventor of the technology, Dirk Hoffmann, who currently serves as CTO, originally conceived the idea as a way to make truck engines more efficient with hydrogen and ethanol injections and has been working on the technology for the last 15 years.

 

Commercial arrangement

The biggest areas of capital expenditure are the methanol tank, the electrolysers, control cabinets, and a water treatment system.

 

FUELSAVE prices its technology and service based on the aim to ensure companies get a return on their investment within three years. It is so confident in the financial benefits that it is willing to sign contracts with tanker operators that guarantee a certain level of return on investment.

 

Due to the capital costs of the equipment, this ROI is easier to achieve the more hours per year the engine is running, and the more fuel is being consumed by an engine

Another possible business model is to lease the equipment to a customer, with capital costs paid for by companies & funds seeking to make an environmentally friendly investment. It means the shipping company has no CAPEX. “This is something we hope we see more in the future,” says Marc Sima, CEO, and co-founder of FUELSAVE.

 

FUELSAVE started to commercialize the technology for 4 stroke engines and will validate the technology as well on a testbench in 2021 with the latest generation dual fuel slow speed 2 stroke engine.

 

Implementation

The system is packaged as a retrofit solution, which can be installed by a team of 3 people over 3 weeks, including while the vessel is sailing.

 

It needs about 24 hours when the engine is not operating to connect the system to the engine, which can be done in a port or on anchorage, Mr. Sima says.

 

The liquid methanol is stored in a separate tank, which might be easier to install in a dry dock but is possible to install as well under voyage.

 

FUELSAVE would work together with the engine manufacturer on the project implementation, to help do a risk assessment for that particular engine, as well as to provide engine manufacturer approval and result validation.

 

SAL Heavy Lift project

So far, the technology has not been tested in tankers, but it has been used for 2.5 years on a heavy lift vessel with a 4-stroke engine. The vessel, MV Annette, is operated by German shipping company SAL Heavy Lift, part of the Harren and Partner group

 

SAL had temporary approval from DNV GL for the project, as the solution featured a non-permanent storage tank for the pilot phase. After its successful completion, FUELSAVE was awarded a Eur 5M contract to install the system on 6 ships with 93 MW combined engine power.

 

The performance of MV Annette’s engine and the findings was thoroughly analysed by class (DNV GL inspectors) as well as the engine service company (Carl Baguhn Hamburg), Castrol, and the customer SAL Heavy Lift

 

FUELSAVE has secured EU funding to test out the system on a 2-stroke engine and has a test bench slot with one of the world’s largest engine manufacturers. Additionally, the company has an LOI from “one of the world’s largest independent container ship operators,” to deploy the FS MARINE+ solution on a 70MW slow speed 2 stroke main engine, Mr. Sima says.

 

Letter of appreciation

A “letter of appreciation” from a SAL engineer to FUELSAVE is published on its website, stating that the system ran for around 4,000 hours on MV Annette between May 2016 and March 2018, and achieved 25 per cent gross fuel savings.

 

Chief engineer Janusz Rut states:

 

"From the vessel side, the handling and attendance of the plant was easy and not bothersome. The service needful was limited to the minimum. The big screen gave an excellent view on all parameters.

 

“The engine condition: The engine examination carried out by the Carl Baguhn Company revealed that the engine components (piston, piston rings and charge air cooler) are much cleaner than usually. That was confirmed at the end of the test by the endoscope inspection.

 

“Lube oil running hours: As a result of the engine examination, it was decided to extend running hours of the lubricating oil. The samples were sent regularly every 250 hours for analysis and proved the oil running hours may be extended till almost 2000 hours.

 

“Air pollution: it is well known that not 100 per cent of the injected fuel is burned inside engine's cylinder. The hydrogen plant increases this value significantly giving cleaner exhaust gas and less primary fuel consumption.

 

“Summarise the hydrogen & methanol injection solution which was installed on MV Annette is worth consideration as future solution for an air pollution reduction giving the profit for the owner at the same time.”

 



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