MAN Energy Solutions’ Bjarne Foldager talked to Marine Propulsion about IMO’s landmark greenhouse gas (GHG) agreement and where the business is placing its bets on 21st century technologies.
With increased public focus on sustainability, climate change and the role of companies in safeguarding the environment, it makes sense for the shipping industry as a whole and MAN Energy Solutions as a company to address the issue of emissions and to work towards minimising environmental impacts .
A giant in the world of marine propulsion manufacturing, MAN is ‘very supportive’ of IMO’s initial strategy on greenhouse gas emissions, according to the group’s head of two-stroke engines, Mr Foldager.
“With these ambitious targets, I think shipping has a great opportunity to improve its reputation as the most environmentally friendly form of transportation that exists,” he said.
For its part, MAN is looking at various 'alternative' fuel technologies; however one as-yet unsurpassed method of internal combustion engineering remains a core tenet of MAN’s business strategy.
“I know diesel is not the politically correct term to use these days, but if you look at diesel as the combustion principle, it is the most efficient principle that exists today,” Mr Foldager said.
“I know diesel is not the politically correct term to use these days, but if you look at diesel as the combustion principle, it is the most efficient principle that exists today.”
LNG is one of MAN’s top fuel choices to reap the benefits of diesel’s highly efficient high-pressure combustion. LNG also offers the benefit of reducing some of the greenhouse gas emissions created when burning other fuels – for two-stroke engines, at least.
Burning LNG in two-stroke engines eliminates methane emissions, according to Mr Foldager. It is a case of picking the right fuel for the right technology, he said, and eliminating methane emissions by pairing LNG with two-stroke diesel engines means preventing a gas from entering the atmosphere that acts as a multiplier of GHG emissions.
That will help with the IMO goals, said Mr Foldager, but it is only part of a much bigger set of solutions that need to be identified and adopted by the industry.
“To reduce by at least 50% greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 … I think it is possible, at least from a technology point of view,” he said.
Referencing IMO’s stairstep process for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – whereby IMO divides its GHG reduction strategy along a timeline of short-, medium- and long-term goals – Mr Foldager said eliminating emissions from methane slip would be one of the short-term goals on the IMO roadmap.
“Within the next 5 years, IMO will come up with something on methane slip to reduce the long-term impact of methane in the greenhouse gas calculations,” he said.
Mr Foldager said the industry has 10 years to figure out which future technologies to focus on if it hopes to be able to meet the goal of curbing emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
“Any slowing down of the uptake of these regulations and the quick fixes that need to happen in the next 10 years just pushes that horizon out even further,” he warned.
In the long-term, Mr Foldager said LNG will be one of the fuels to feature in the industry/IMO calculation, but it will not be the only fuel.
Citing current growth projections, he said measures such as speed reductions and eliminating methane slip would not be enough and that the industry would need new fuel technologies to achieve IMO targets.
One important task for IMO, he said, would be to carefully consider how it calculates the footprint of different types of fuel before they become widely adopted.
“Do you include the upstream process?” he asked, rhetorically. “If you have biofuel, you could argue that it is carbon-negative when it reaches the ship. But of course, you still emit CO2 when you combust it and use it aboard the ship. But then the total impact from that fuel could be close to zero, I guess. It all depends how the calculation is done by IMO.”
“I think the IMO resolutions and regulations are a piece of art on doing what is actually possible,” he said.
“I think the IMO resolutions and regulations are a piece of art on doing what is actually possible.”
So, what strategic decisions is the MAN Energy Solutions business making to plan for the advent of a zero-carbon future?
“What it means on our side is we have to make the technology available to burn all the different types of fuel that can be considered,” Mr Foldager said.
And while the diesel engine specialist formerly known as MAN Diesel & Turbo is developing technology to account for every eventuality in the fuels and regulatory picture, the group is still firmly committed to the internal-combustion engine.
“The main propulsion will still come from a propulsion unit, and when we compare the different technologies, we basically come to the conclusion that the internal combustion engine is by far the most efficient. This is the technology that we will focus on for the foreseeable future,” he said.
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