Is volatile fuel used in racing cars a new power source for ships?

(Reuters) – Methanol, a fuel used to power light aircraft and racing cars, is being tried out as alternative for ships, highlighting its potential in an industry under pressure to cut emissions.

From next year, shipping firms will have to cut polluting sulphur emissions in vessels going to parts of Europe and North America, sparking a race for alternatives to standard diesel between fuel sources such as methanol and liquefied natural gas.

As well as being considered a green fuel, methanol is potentially cheaper and more plentiful than diesel or LNG.

But it is trickier to handle than some fuels, such as diesel, due to its lower flashpoint — the temperature where it vaporizes and could ignite — so needs care to prevent fires.

“Compared with LNG as an alternative shipping fuel we see methanol in an early stage of development,” said Thomas Wybierek, a shipping analyst at Norddeutsche Landesbank.


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