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Methanol for the maritime energy transition

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In a nutshell: Methanol in maritime shipping. Our explanatory video gives a short overview about methanol, it’s benefits and also challenges related to this marine fuel type.


Four-stroke methanol-fuelled engines

Fuel system for methanol and 32/44 single-cylinder research engine

In preparation for the engine fuels that will power our decarbonized future, MAN Energy Solutions is also developing solutions for methanol, which can become carbon-neutral if it is synthesized using green hydrogen. Petra Rektorik, one of the engineers working on the research and development of four-stroke methanol-fuelled engines at MAN Energy Solutions in Augsburg, highlights the advantages and challenges.

What are possible applications for four-stroke methanol-fuelled engines?

Methanol-fuelled engines will mainly be used in the marine business. In fact, methanol-based two- and four-stroke solutions will be relevant for the complete MAN Energy Solutions marine engine portfolio.

Typical examples for the application of four-stroke engines include container ships, ferries, fishing or cruise vessels, as well as offshore solutions. Stationary solutions might also be a possible area for methanol applications, for example, for small islands that lack natural gas infrastructure.

The use of green methanol has great potential to significantly reduce the exhaust gas emissions for future marine applications.

Petra Rektorik
Development four-stroke methanol injection systems and methanol-fuelled engines

Single-cylinder research engine for future fuel applications

What role will methanol play on the path to a decarbonized future?

If we are talking about green methanol that is synthesized from carbon dioxide and hydrogen, then we can actually achieve CO2-neutral combustion. Furthermore, methanol has some advantages concerning its emissions behavior: There are fewer NOx emissions and no SOx or soot emissions for pure methanol combustion. So there’s great potential for methanol to play a key role in the maritime energy transition.

Are there further advantages?

One of the major advantages is the retrofit capability for our four-stroke engines. This enables us to provide affordable solutions for our customers. Other advantages lie in the properties of methanol: It is liquid in ambient conditions. The handling onboard a vessel is therefore much easier compared to gaseous fuels. Furthermore, methanol is less hazardous for aquatic organisms compared to well-known marine fuels like marine gas oil or heavy fuel oil. This permits the use of the outer ship hull as bunker tanks. Hence, the fuel storage capacity onboard increases.

What does the roadmap for the development look like? What are the challenges?

At the moment, MAN Energy Solutions is developing methanol retrofit solutions for its four-stroke customers with which will be sales-ready from 2022 onwards, with retrofits starting in 2024.

The market introduction of the first methanol ready four-stroke solution is planned for mid of 2022. It will be a dual-fuel concept to provide greater flexibility.

The challenges with using methanol as a fuel mainly lie in the fuel system and injection technology as well as in the optimization of the combustion. But for these challenges we have already defined solutions and the development of these is progressing. We’re on track to provide efficient, sustainable, and economic solutions for our customers.


Technical paper: Methanol in shipping

In this technical paper MAN Energy Solutions provides some insights, guidance and technology answers around one of the fuel options that are increasingly being discussed and considered as alternative shipping fuels – Methanol (MeOH).

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Sulphur oxides can be reduced to zero, because methanol is a sulphur-free medium
Using green methanol can be 100% carbon neutral


Methanol is a biodegradable, clean-burning fuel type that significantly reduces emissions such as particulate matter, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. In the past, it was mainly used as a chemical base for the production of various products, such as building materials but also healthcare and medical products. For some time now, methanol has started to become a more and more attractive alternative used for heating, cooking, and also powering vessels.

Main advantages:

  • Methanol is a clean-burning liquid that can be produced from renewables
  • Can be stored at ambient conditions
  • Proven two-stroke engine technology available today

Focus areas: 

  • Methanol is available in many ports, but bunker facilities and procedures need to be implemented
  • Availability of green methanol

Solutions / technologies by MAN Energy Solutions: 



  • Products: Two-stroke dual fuel engines: MAN B&W ME-LGIM
  • Ship applications: Ideal for tankers carrying methanol as cargo. Increasing interest for all other ship applications 
  • Go to two-stroke engines 

  • Products: Four-Stroke engines, integrated propulsion systems and retrofit solutions for existing engines, future-proof for adoption of upcoming methanol operation requirement.
  • Solutions: Integrated propulsion plant equipment and fuel supply systems for direct installation and retrofit provision in case of methanol readiness.
  • Ship applications: Ships with current or future requirements to adopt methanol as operating fuel enabling future-proof ship operation today, with action options to answer any greenhouse gas reduction requirement.
  • Go to four-stroke engines


Two-stroke customer statements

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Get first-hand info by two of our low-speed customers from Methanex NZ Ltd and Waterfront Shipping Canada about their experience with methanol as a marine fuel type and also about their experiences with MAN as prime mover for two-stroke methanol engines.

There are many advantages in powering a ship with methanol. Watch our two-stroke customer Marinvest Shipping AB and find out more about their experience with methanol as a marine fuel type, with MAN as a partner and also about the operation of vessels powered by B&W ME-LGIM engines.

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  • MAN ExpertTalk

    Methanol as marine fuel for large merchant vessels

    Listen in to learn how our portfolio of methanol-fueled MAN B&W ME-LGIM engines evolves to support market demand, and take a deep dive with us into the technical aspects of the supporting supply and auxiliary systems.

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Set your course to net zero – new methanol-fuelled GenSet and propulsion engine MAN L27/38DF-M

Watch the recording of our MAN ExpertTalk where you can get insights into the development of the small-bore four-stroke engine MAN L27/38DF-M. You’ll also gain knowledge about its auxiliary and electric propulsion applications and explore the potential of operating this engine on fuels like green methanol and bio-fuel oils.

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