"The use of liquid natural gas for powering sea-going ships is technically feasible, makes economic sense and optimizes the environmental balance of maritime traffic which is environmental friendly anyway," summarized Dr. Peter Ramsauer (CSU), German Federal Minster of Transportation, after his visit to Caterpillar Motoren Rostock.
In meetings with representatives of the industry, the Minister learned about the current state of development and witnessed a testbed run of the new MaK 6 M 46 DF dual fuel engine of Caterpillar. The event was jointly hosted by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) and Caterpillar Motoren and representatives from BSH, Caterpillar, Zeppelin Power Systems, Meyer Werft, Neptun Werft, Det Norske Veritas DNV, Bomin-Linde LNG, Hansa Shipping and LNG Marine Service were also in attendance.
Referring to the current discussions about the implementation of new emission regulations for maritime shipping, the purpose of the Minister's visit was to outline different approaches for a solution and examine them for feasibility. The focus was on retrofitting existing ships from heavy fuel/diesel operation to cleaner liquid natural gas operation. Liquid natural gas (LNG) meets the requirements for low-sulphur fuels as well as emission limits defined by the International Maritime Organization for Emission Control Areas (ECAs) for a planned implementation in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
As one of the world's leading manufacturers of diesel and natural gas engines, Caterpillar has already been focusing on developing both economical and environmentally-friendly power solutions. For its range of medium-speed marine engines manufactured in Kiel and Rostock, the work to develop and test dual fuel engines (for diesel, heavy fuel and gas operation) started in 2009. Medium-speed gas engines for stationary power generation applications have already been offered by Caterpillar Motoren since the year 2000. Starting at the end of 2013, the MaK M 46 DF dual fuel engine will be available as a production engine certified by the marine classification societies. First units in 12-cylinder configuration have recently been delivered to customers.
The new MaK M 46 DF marine engine not only reduces sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions in gas operation below the level of the limits currently under discussion, but also decreases greenhouse emissions because of its higher efficiency compared to diesel operation. Because of its inherent principle, the engine is nearly working without any soot emissions during gas operation and thus reduces dust pollution of the air in harbors.
The implementation of gas operation, however, also requires a suitable infrastructure on board the ship and in the harbor. In the future, Caterpillar will intensively cooperate with shipyards and gas suppliers to define the optimal fuel concept for each owner.
"From a pure engine supplier, Caterpillar is more and more evolving into a provider of complex system solutions for ship propulsion and automation. Together with industry partners, we will offer our customers sustainable solutions for the operation and service of gas and dual fuel engines which are economic and environmentally-friendly," said Frank Kircher, Marine Engine sales director of Caterpillar Marine Power Systems in Hamburg.
"Liquid natural gas is part of the mobility and fuel strategy of the German government," confirmed Dr. Ramsauer.
Caterpillar is well-positioned to provide sustainable power solutions and meet our customer's needs.