ISO specification another step forward for methanol as a fuel for shipping’s future

ISO specification another step forward for methanol as a fuel for shipping’s future

The Methanol Institute has welcomed the decision of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to invite the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop a standard for methyl/ethyl alcohol as a marine fuel and a standard for methyl/ethyl alcohol fuel couplings.

The decision was taken at the 99th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 99).

“The global chemicals industry currently relies on the IMPCA specification for producers and consumers but a dedicated ISO standard will help shipowners understand the fuel in a marine fuel context,” said the institute’s chief operating officer Chris Chatterton. “We are seeing increasing interest around methanol as a liquid fuel that is safe to handle easy to ship and store and is more widely available than other low sulphur alternatives.”

There are currently eight ships trading internationally operating on methanol as fuel – the ropax Stena Germanica and seven tankers operated by Waterfront Shipping with at least four more expected to enter into service in 2019.

ISO will work to develop the standards and provide them as soon as possible, the first time it has considered these fuel types.

“A comment was made during MSC 99 that fuel standards should be developed before ships begin using such low-flashpoint fuels so that safety concerns are adequately addressed before, not after, larger numbers of ships start using them,” commented Unni Einemo from the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA). “However, ISO has traditionally developed fuel standards only after user experience to be able to assess which parameters need to be specified, and also what relevant limits should be.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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