The wind one

Season 1, Ep. 3

A new age of sail is emerging for shipping. It's true, we may be able to say once more that ships are sailing and mean it. It may lack the image of the great tea clippers and multi-sailed vessels of the previous centuries, but a new breed of companies and engineers are re-examining what can be done with the wind as shipping looks to decarbonise.

They are not looking to bring back multi-rigged sailing ships, despite how wonderful that thought and image may be, but to use a new breed of sail designs, wing designs, spinning rotors and kites to add power to ships that will soon need to use their engines less.

In this episode of Aronnax, the first of three from the recent Greenship Technology Conference in Copenhagen, Craig Eason, Editorial Director at Fathom World spoke to to the Secretary General of the International Windship Association, Gavin Allwright about the recent developments and the association members believes in a new future of windpower, as well as to a Danish entrepreneur Brian Boserup who is developing a giant trimaran cargo vessel that's bigger than a Boeing 747.

Read more about Brian Boserup and the Blue Technology Trimaran at

and get the latest updates from the International Windship association

Sign up for regular updates from Fathom World and feel free to get in touch with your stories and news about change and transformation in the shipping an ocean industries.

More Episodes


Shipping's future ammonia engine

Season 3, Ep. 4
Hello and welcome to the Aronnax Show a podcast focused nt he transformation of the shipping, maritime and ocean space My name is Craig Eason, and I own and edit the Fathom World website.Today’s show is focused on the efforts being made in the industry to develop the first engines capable of being powered by ammonia.Ammonia is being seen by some as a key fuel for international shipping to decarbonise. It’s chemical composition (one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms in each molecule) mean that it has no carbon that can be formed into carbon dioxide when it is burned in a marine engine. So CO2 emissions are zero.Now I know there are arguments about how environmentally sound ammonia is. Today’s ammonia is largely made from LNG and other hydrocarbons so is grey ammonia, or at best blue. Green ammonia is that which is made using electricity from renewable sources.However, regardless of the ammonia origin, it is the same molecule that is combusted to create power in an engine.Another issue is that of laughing gas. When ammonia is burned it has the potential to produce laughing gas or N20- Laughing gas is a greenhouse gas and much worse than CO2MAN ES in Copenhagen has promised to have an ammonia two stroke engine on the market by 2024.It also announced a recent project to develop a four-stroke engine. My guest on this episode is Brian Østergaard Sørensen who is head of two stroke research in Copenhagen, and responsible for the trials in the company’s test facilities in the Daish capital.I spoke with him just over a year ago when the company announced an enlargement of its test facilities to accommodate increased interest in new fuels.So, I caught up with him to ask about what has been happening in the last year since we spoke and what needs to happen for the industry to get an ammonia engine from MAN.Brian Østergaard SørensenYeah, so, so thanks a lot, Craig for for inviting me back and I'm actually happy to be here today and share some of the insights that has happened over the last over the last 12 months. A lot of activity has gone through has been going on in relation to the development of our ammonia engine, we have come quite far we have established you can say a number of of initiatives together with other partners, we are working closely together with with fuel supply makers with classification societies with universities in the development. So, while we have not had you can say one of our two test engines in the research and the Copenhagen running on ammonia yet, we have done a lot of the initial preparations for this. So, it is preparations in terms of understanding the, you can say, the fuel supply system characteristics. It is dealing with with the safety and the health hazard that ammonia as a fuel is posing and some of the challenges we see in the engine design around that. We have looked at the engine itself. What does it require in terms of materials? What do we need to change? Do we see any immediate challenges here and of course, we have been looking at, you can say more from a theoretical angle, on the combustion characteristics and and started to look into some of the automation algorithms, the performance metrics we will be using. And then we have recently started to look into the emission side as well. And we are in a consortia around that to look at in case you have certain types of emissions you need to deal with -what what would that entail in terms of technical developments?Craig EasonWhen you're looking at the fuel supply side of things, so start at the beginning there in terms of the process of how things would go through the engine - when you're looking at the fuel supply side ammonia would be supplied onto the ship as a liquid. What can you tell me about so far that you know so far about how you would then have that fed into a dual-fuel engine? What sort of temperature what sort of pressures and what sort of considerations would you need to have for that part of the process?Brian Østergaard SørensenYeah, so we believe the storage shoe you can say on board is easier than other types of fuel. So we believe it is well known to to the industry. What we're looking at presently is supply pressure around 80 bar or so in the system. And then we do not see any major challenges handling, you can see it being supplied to to the engine. We have seen other tool fuel type installations where we have dealt with these challenges. So, from that perspective, we do not see major challenges for ammonia. One thing I have to say though is that ammonia Of course, can be a corrosive and we need to handle that and that is why the material part in it needs to be to be dealt with quite carefully. So, so, we have we have generated a fuel specification which which we believe will will be the right one for for our engines and and that is now available and here the one of the important parts is that there needs to be a little water in the ammonia for it it to be compatable with with the materials we currently have.Craig EasonSo, would the ammonia that you're talking about here, would it be the same kind of ammonia that we're seeing supplied to other industries? Is it the same ammonia or would it be a bit like marine fuels today would it be marine grade ammonia?Brian Østergaard SørensenIt will look very much very much the same. There could be something around around purity water content and so on. And that is why we have made this specification to actually be able to to give quite a good guidance on this, but it will not be significantly different from from what you see today.Craig EasonSo,I'm not asking you on the pricing side of things, but there won't be that significant pricing difference between ammonia that is in society and ammonia that is going to be used for marine use.Brian Østergaard Sørensen No we don't we don't believe show that you can say the ammonia available today though is generated from a fossil base and and what we are talking about of course is is green ammonia. But from an engine builder/designer point of view, the molecule is the same. So, whether it is fossil based or whether it is coming from renewable energy for our engine, it does not matter but of course it matters for the overall sustainability of the system you can say.Craig Easonyou mentioned you've looked at the the kind of the theoretical side of the combustion in the engine which you get to construct in the in your test center in Copenhagen What can you tell me about the combustion cycle then of ammonia in these kind of engines?Brian Østergaard SørensenYeah, so, so, what we have we have looked at you can say the LTI concept we are having that is the liquid-to-gas injection platform we have in our engine program. And then we have looked at the characteristics around around ammonia - you can say flame speed, different combustion characteristics, and what do we believe the pilot fuel amount would be what would the flame propagation speed be and so on. And I think that that has been important for us to establish the the starting set of parameters once we start the single sylinder tests. Then of course, during those tests, we will we will challenge the boundaries and we will we will continuously optimize the combustion.Craig EasonOne of the things with LNG of course is methane slip and you've been addressing that with a number of different technologies including exhaust gas recirculation and SCR selective catalytic reduction there are a number of ways that you've been working on NOx and methane slip and other things like that, what would happen with incomplete ammonia combustion? What what do you see is that after emissions part of the ammonia combustion?Brian Østergaard SørensenSo, we still believe we need some sort of after treatment system. So when SCR would would be would probably be a good choice we need to deal with the NOx and some of the active ingredients in in some SCR, the selective category reactors are actually ammonia and we have that in abundance on board. So the NOx needs to be dealt with. And we also believe in this way we can actually deal with the ammonia slip. The challenge will be if we get the generation of laughter gas (N2O) which is a very potent greenhouse gas. So so we do not want to end up with a solution where we have exchanged you can say CO2 as a greenhouse gas with another very potent greenhouse gas. So it's important for us that the footprint -the environmental footprin- is low. And that is why we need to deal with the with the N2O if that is formed. So our first option would be to deal with it through the combustion process and and basically not generate the laughter gas, if that turns out not to be feasible, then we would need some sort of after treatment technology to deal with the with an after gas that it has been done before you can say on shore side. So, it is not completely unknown technology. But then of course needs to be adapted to a marine environment and to the conditions we have we will have as part of the engine system.Craig EasonA lot of the engines that you've been developing over the last 510 years have all been notably dual fuel when it comes to alternative fuels, whether it's ethane, LNG, methanol, they're all they all tend to be dual fuel. Why are you looking almost exclusively at dual fuel? Why not go for single fuel solutions then potentially could have higher efficiency.Brian Østergaard SørensenI think this is also you can say it is all a backup solution for for many ship owners, you can say. Let's say that here in the transition phase and for the next many years, you would not have ammonia available then you would be able to go back to diesel oil for example. So, it gives you more flexibility on the solution on the dual fuel solution. That is one of the reasons we have developed this you can say the dual fuel approach.Craig EasonAnd the the option for dual fuel you mentioned diesel with ammonia here are we looking at simply two fuels are we looking at a multiple option here would in a single engine be able to take two fuels, whichever ones the ship owner decides it wants to have as its options or multi fuel engine. So, you got three fuiels that you could choose fromBrian Østergaard SørensenI think I think many people would like to have that option, I do not see this as as the first generation. This will be you can say this will be either a diesel oil mode or an ammonia mode. And the reason being that some of the the the auxiliary systems would would be different,some of the pressures could be different, maybe the lubrication oil we are using on the engine would have to be different. And that is why it is not just the switch of a button that you can change from LNG for example to ammonia. What we are looking into is to modularize our engine design. So so we make a transition from one to the other as easy as possible in terms of rebuilding or retrofitting an engine, that is something we have an eye for.Craig EasonSo that gives an owner that confidence perhaps that there is a solution, if they go down a particular avenue, there is a solution that is more affordable than actually trying to take out a whole engine, which of course is nigh on impossible on a large ship anyway.Brian Østergaard SørensenYeah. And so, so, this future proofing The engine is one of our you can say one of the mantras we have and then in the design work making sure that that if you choose a conventional engine or or a different second fuel engine today, then it can be rebuilt later on. So, while we will have the first you can say ammonia engine design available in 2024, we will also be focusing on having a retrofit solution available approximately a year later in 2025 allowing for rebuild. And then there are certain preparations you can make and I know a lot of people in the industry is looking into to this,saying you know what, what will have to be done both in terms of of the engine that is our area, but also in terms of tank capacity, in terms of venting areas and so on. So, it goes beyond just the engine or the supply system for the engine. It actually you need to think in the this ship design basically, when you look ahead.Craig EasonYou mentioned the test engine, your test facility in Copenhagen and you haven't built this ammonia engine yet or we haven't converted the engine that you've got in and that's an important distinction - you're not building an engine from scratch here in Copenhagen. You've got two engines and you effectively retrofit them to test capabilities on new fuels. And you've been doing that with the first engine. And it's only recently that you got the second engine in the same process then as well? When do you see yourself starting to do the tests on ammonia in CopenhagenBrian Østergaard SørensenWe plan to start on that during next year, and then we will do it throughout 23. So, we will be starting to run on one cylinder and then you can say test the characteristics on one cylinder and then you move from there to the four cylinders. So, the complete engine and that is how we are normally doing you can say the development. So, a single cylinder will give us a lot of indications around combustion characteristics and so on. And of course, when you then go to the full engine, then then you can really play with the with the control system and then look at the emissions and optimize the performance. So, that is the normal development cycle which we have also used on some of our other other developments like the ME-EA we recently released an ME-GI before that and so on.Craig EasonHow do you then take that engine design then and give it to your partners that build the engines I'm not sure if many people really know this. But as a, you know, as a world renowned marine engine maker, you don't actually make most of the engines- the two stroke engines you have licensees that then make them for you around the world, notably in China, Korea, Japan, where the major shipbuilding takes place. How do you then take this new design for an ammonia engine and show it to them about how to build an ammonia engine to go into a brand new ship.Brian Østergaard SørensenSo, so, basically, we are taking the learnings from our test engine from test centre, and then we build it into a design during that phase, when we are designing you can say, the commercial engine, then then we would for example, team up with a different technical people from from the various licensees, we will make sure that we have the right documentation and then you can say then basically we we built the first commercial engine together and that first commercial engine will actually go into a vessel. What we often do, then, depending on on on the magnitude of the innovations or the development, then there will be some R&D test time for the first prototype engine. That means that where you normally might test for a couple of weeks, then it could be we will be testing for for for a month or two months optimizing you can say that design. But due to the sheer size of these engines, it is simply not feasible to build one demonstration engine and then have that one standing there. So we will be demonstrating you can say the concepts on our test engine. And then the first commercial engine will serve as as a demonstrator if you can call it like that.Craig EasonA lot of the initial evolution of ammonia and hydrogen and these alternative fuel to seeing is happening around the coast, a lot of smaller vessels, coastal vessels, and so on. And that's and they quite often use four stroke engines. And I know that this isn't your area of research and expertise. But I just wanted to ask you about the other project that I saw were announced recently from MAN ES notably in Germany on four stroke engines, because I see there was a marine element to that as well what sort of project is that what sort of project you're involved in there relating to the evolution of a four stroke, ammonia internal combustion engine.Brian Østergaard SørensenSo, we work very closely together with our colleagues in the fourstroke you can say design area and and we share a lot of the data, there are commonalities and then there are things that are different. What we what we are discussing with them and what they are working on is when you look at a ship, you have the main propulsion system, which is often for the large seagoing vessels, two stroke engine, and then you will have power generation engines-gensets- that would often be fourstroke Indians, and I think many ship owners if you want a really zero carbon vessel, you need both actually to have the capability to run on on a zero carbon fuel. And what our colleagues in the fourstroke area is doing is that they are actually looking into, you know, how can we adapt ammonia as a fuel on their platform. And that is the work that they are going into now. They're they're looking into the initial area, what would it take for a four stroke engine to to be adapted to burn ammonia? And then they are looking very much into hydrogen as well. What would it take for for hydrogen to be burned on a four stroke engine? And that is because four-stroke engines are also used on the shore side for power generation, not only on on marine side.Craig EasonWhat what are the expectations here of using hydrogen, in an internal combustion engine in marine environment?Brian Østergaard SørensenI think it's depending a little you can say, on who you ask. We think and we knowit's for sure possible. We think the cost of storage on board and handling it on board would be quite high. And we see ammonia as an effective hydrogen carrier, basically, which is easier to handle on board and it's well known to the industry. And that is why we think that, that for large vessels, ammonia would probably be the preferred choice. But you could see coastal vessels and near-shore shipping going for for hydrogen, where you could bunker more frequently than you would do ona on a global trading vessel.End

Ardmore Shipping

Season 3, Ep. 3
In this episode of the Aronnax Show, Craig Eason talks to Mark Cameron, Chief Operating Officer at Irish shipowner Ardmore Shipping about the company's unusual decision to launch a join venture commercial enterprise looking to marinise methanol reformers for shipping.The technology takes liquid methanol and makes hydrogen which can be fed into a PEM fuel cell. The company believes this technology could be used to replace electrical generators and auxiliary engines in ocean going ships and main engines of inland waterway vessels.Additionally we hear brief comment from MAN ES about their new engine. It's an Otto cycle engine as opposed to a Diesel cycle which the company is more known. Like all it engines these days it is dual fuel, able to burn fuel oil and liquid natural gas, but it adds to a portfolio of engines which will soon include an ammonia powered engine. But what is also interesting is the application of exhaust gas re-circulation a technology which, as its name suggests, feeds engine exhaust back into the engine while it is running. MAN ES explains how it improves performance and has an added benefit of reducing methane slip, a weakness of the LNG dual fuel engines that critics have been keen to highlight.Finally we have a regular update from Nick Chubb from Thetius on some of the other news and announcements that underscores the transformation of the shipping and maritime space.Stories covered in this episode can be found on Fathom.WorldMAN ES demonstrates new Otto cycle two stroke main engineArdmore Shipping launches new venture:

Greenship boost

Last week there were two noticeable announcements from shipping companies about the types of ships they are going to, or to be accurate could be, ordering in the future, and these were noticeable as these two vessels were a methanol powered container ship and a wind powered deep sea car carrier.As we see the drive to decarbonise society and the shipping industry there is pressure on many sides for more action and less talking. But given the ask, the action has been slow to materialise. As we have heard in previous episodes of Aronnax show the race is speeding up to find new fuels and new ways to create a cleaner more sustainable shipping industry, one that is up to the challenge that society is setting itself.These two announcements from Maersk Line in Copenhagen Denmark and Wallenius Wilhelmsen in Oslo Norway, could, if their promises remain true be seen in the future as some of the first significant steps on this journey.Maersk Line said it will be building a feeder container vessel that will run off methanol. Well, actually it will be dual fuelleld so it will still has the option to use existing fossil bunker fuels as well.Tis is not one of the giant boxships that sail between Asia and Europe and the US, these huge vessels have a nominal capacity of well over 20,000 20 foot containers. This methanol vessel, with 2,000 teu is a lot smaller and run on a regular shuttle feeder route according to Morten Bo Christiansen, who is head of Decarbonisaiton at AP Moller MaerskThe company gave me a short window of opportunity to talk to him about the news, but in that time he told me about the challenges they will face. The group aims to get the vessel in the water and in service by 2023. Christiansen says this order for the ship, and the announcement that all future newbuilds will be dual fuelled for future fuels, which should help fuel makers see the potential market for fuels. The company has told the press that customers using this vessel will see higher rates for cargo, reflecting the current higher costs of ordering such a vessel, and the cost of greener fuels which remain higher than current fossil based fuels.Also last week Wallenius Wilhelmsen said it will also be pushing on with a project o build a wind powered giant car carrier. The challenges are significant, but the company is moving the Oceanbird project that Swedish partner Wallenius Linebegan last year.But it was back in 2005, Norwegian shipowner and manager Wilhelmsen designed a ship it was never intending to build.It was called Orcelle, like the company’s other vessel’s at the time it was a car carrier, but unlike anything else it was a design of a future ship that had sails, alternative power, wave power, solar panels and other technological ideas that were at the time looking unlikely to become reality.The announcement last week was for a vessel it is calling Orcelle Wind, and which it hopes to order next year providing the project meets five key feasibility criteria: Namely that such a vessel makes technical, operational, regulatory, financial and commercial sense. Roger Strevens, vice president of Global Sustainability at Wallenius Wilhelmsen talks about the decision to develop such a radically different vessel. The listed company is majority owned by Wallenius in Sweden and Wilhelmsen in Norway. The Oceanbird project which has led to Orcelle Wind was driven largely by Wallenius in the beginning. Wilhelmsen in Norway has been evolving its own projects within it subsidiaries, including hydrogen fuelled projects and electrification. And in an earlier episode we talked about another joint venture called Massterley which Wilhelmsen runs with Norwegian tech firm Kongsberg.