Yacht fuel bunkering: Liquid natural gas
Written by Michael Henson
Last updated: 02/09/2016
With yachts and superyachts receiving increased pressure to reduce emissions, particularly in the United States, yacht builders are starting to consider LNG (liquid natural gas) as an alternative ‘clean’ fuel. Below Yachting Pages gives a complete guide on the fuel, and determines whether or not it is a viable option for yachts in the future.
What is liquid natural gas?
Liquefied natural gas is a natural gas that has been converted to liquid form through cooling for ease of storage and transport. LNG is a clear, colourless and non-toxic liquid that will not ignite. LNG is now emerging as a cost-competitive and cleaner fuel, especially for the maritime industry.
Why is liquid natural gas being considered as a yacht fuel?
Since January 2016, stringent new environmental regulations have been put in place in the USA, which has forced all newly built boats over 24m long and weighing 500 tonnes or more to cut their sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions by nearly 80%. Experts are predicting that the regulations, which will apply to all vessels over 24m by 2021, to soon be rolled out to other maritime areas, including the Mediterranean.
What are the benefits of LNG?
According to a paper delivered at the 2010 meeting of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in Washington, USA., ‘LNG is much cleaner than diesel fuel. It reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%, eliminates sulphur oxide, cuts carbon dioxide by 20% and produces no particulates’. The paper goes on to state that ‘LNG also enjoys a 40% price advantage over diesel.’
Due to natural gas’ cleaner burning properties, the use of natural gas in luxury yachting is becoming an option for new yacht builders in order to comply with IMO and MARPOL.
What are the disadvantages of LNG?
The first problem with LNG is the fact that yachts will have to be designed differently to conventional looking yachts to be able to store the high volume of the gas needed. Extra considerations need to be given to protection of the gas tanks.
The biggest problem of LNG is the availability of gas bunkers as well as the practicality of providing such facilities in a yacht marina. Right now it seems unlikely that LNG as a marine fuel will become widespread in the yacht sector in the near future due to this reason alone.
Will we see a superyacht running on LNG in the future?
Lürssen has detailed plans for a yacht that runs on liquefied natural gas and Peter Lürssen, CEO of Lürssen Yachts recently stated, “I’m convinced we will see a yacht with LNG sooner rather than later.”
The above statement by one of the world’s most recognised yachting brands along with the fact that Trinity Yachts has recently built a90+ meter offshore supply vessel that runs on LNG and ‘have the technology and expertise to build LNG-powered superyachts’, the chance for yachtsmen who really want to be green is available.