Port of Antwerp-Bruges introduces world’s first methanol-powered tugboat

Port of Antwerp-Bruges unveils methanol-powered tugboat

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges has unveiled the Methatug, a methanol-powered tugboat that is part of the port’s fleet greening strategy and an important step towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

The initiative is financed by the European research programme Horizon 2020 and it is part of the FASTWATER project, which aims to demonstrate the potential of methanol as a sustainable fuel for the marine industry.

According to the port, the Methatug’s engines of an existing tugboat were changed into ‘dual fuel’ engines, which run on a combination of methanol and conventional gasoline.

The 30-metre-long tugboat has a traction force of 50 tonnes and can store 12,000 litres of methanol, which is adequate for two weeks of tug labour.

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Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp-Bruges, said: “Together with our partners, we are pioneering with innovative technologies for the transition to alternative and renewable energy sources.

“The Methatug is a new and essential step in our efforts to make our own fleet greener and become climate neutral by 2050. Thanks to projects such as this, we are paving the way and hope to be an example and a source of inspiration for other ports.” 

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Prof. Sebastian Verhelst, Project Coordinator FASTWATER, stated: “Methanol has everything to become the fuel of the future and play a pioneering role in the greening of the shipping industry.

“Thanks to the expertise and efforts of the different partners from the consortium, we are now able to take important steps with the Methatug to demonstrate its feasibility.”

In April, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges announced an increase in container throughput of 8.6 per cent in tonnes and 6 per cent in TEU (3.29 million) in the first quarter of 2024, compared to the same period in 2023.

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