LNG as a ship fuel: perspectives and challenges

Siyuan Wang and Professor Theo Notteboom, ITMMA, University of Antwerp, Belgium

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The upcoming stringent environmental regulations enacted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), particularly at the level of the emission control areas (ECA), serve as a catalyst for exploring the use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a marine fuel. LNG promises a good environmental performance compared to conventional ship fuels. It emits nearly no sulphur oxide (SOx) or particle matter (PM) emissions, 90 percent less nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 20-25 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2). Research into LNG as a marine fuel saw a strong growth in recent years, but no study has analysed in a structured way, the level of convergence among the findings presented in the wide range of studies conducted by research centres, classification societies, ship engine manufacturers and consultancy firms. In order to fill this gap, we performed a systematic review to synthesise the findings of 33 published studies on the use of LNG as a ship fuel. The aim is to obtain a much broader understanding of the current perspectives and challenges for applying LNG as a bunker for ship propulsion.

Factors supporting or obstructing the adoption of LNG

Figure 1 provides an evaluation for 17 factors affecting the large-scale adoption possibilities for LNG. Not all of the 33 studies considered refer to all 17 factors. The figure shows the consistency and/ or divergence in existing literature. Some divergence between earlier and later studies might be attributed to the ongoing technological innovation and economic and regulatory advances to support LNG as a ship fuel. Some of the most crucial challenges are discussed in the following sections...

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  Edition 60      Environment, Health & Safety, Liquid, Chemical & Gas Handling

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Edition 60


The IMO's stricter sulphur emission standards are likely to have a profound impact on the maritime industry. With this in mind, PTI's sixtieth edition pays a particular focus to the challenges ahead if LNG is to become the shipping fuel of the future and if this is the most viable option for shipping lines vying to meet these new regulations. Elsewhere, we have contributions form Drewry, Liftech consultants and a host of key industry experts, engineers and analysts.