Methanol is one of the most promising future marine fuels in terms of storability, scalability and sustainability because it is a liquid at room temperature and pressure with reasonable energy density, and it can be produced renewably using abundantly available resources. Dual-fuel methanol engines that have methanol injected into the intake air and get ignited by a pilot injection of diesel are already operating on the ocean today but this concept has limitations on the methanol energy fraction and suffers from the pollutant emissions of diesel combustion.
Marine engines operated with pure methanol are currently studied within the EU-funded project FASTWATER coordinated by Prof. Sebastian Verhelst. One research pathway is SI (spark-ignition) operation. This is usually unachievable because the premixed charge tends to autoignite and cause the so-called knock event in large-bore (> 200mm) and medium-speed (<1000RPM) engines. However, the high research octane number, high flame speed and high heat of vaporization of methanol are all properties alleviating the knock tendency. Therefore, this research aims to investigate the feasibility of pure methanol SI operation in large-bore medium-speed marine engines.
The feasibility study will be carried out using the industry standard simulation tool GT-Power . The geometry of the engine model will be based on an existing product from one of the partners of the FASTWATER project, the Ghent based company Anglo Belgian Corporation.
To accurately capture the advantageous properties of methanol, the full engine model will be based on sub-models developed previously by the research team, such as laminar burning velocity, ignition delay and in-cylinder heat transfer. Methanol evaporation in the intake manifold is another critical building block of this research, and experimental work will be carried out to validate this sub-model using a single cylinder test engine in the lab.