The news that an ME-GI principle LNG-fired engine will be demonstrated next year by MOL and Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co. (see earlier story) is one of several indications of growing interest in the technology.
The ME-GI engine is a gas-injection, dual-fuel, low-speed diesel engine that, when acting as main propulsion in any type of merchant marine vessel, can burn gas or fuel-oil at any ratio, depending on the energy source available on board and dictated by relative cost and owner preference.
Unveiled at a major event at MAN Diesel & Turbo's Copenhagen, Denmark, Diesel Research Center in May 2011, the ME-GI engine is the culmination of work that began in the 1990s with the company's prototype MC-GI dual-fuel engine. The first two-stroke GI engine, a 12K80MC-GI-S, entered service at a power plant in Chiba, near Tokyo, Japan in 1994.
In separate announcements at MAN Diesel & Turbo's second ME-GI test demonstration for customers in Copenhagen on March 6, HHI-EMD – the Engine and Machinery Division of Hyundai Heavy Industries – and Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. stated that they intend to build prototypes of MAN Diesel & Turbo's gas engine. The announcements effectively mean that the ME-GI has edged even closer to commercial production.
Both companies intend to carry out full-scale demonstrations of the ME-GI principle based on the temporary conversion of existing production engines to ME-GI units.
Hyundai intends to convert an 8S70ME-GI unit in November 2012, while, as we reported, Mitsui will convert a 6S70ME-GI unit in the second quarter of 2013.
MAN Diesel & Turbo sees the announcement of the demonstrations as stemming from customer requests to employ the ME-GI engine in new projects and says that production capability for the ME-GI is already available. Test beds and ancillary gas-supply systems will also be available in time for ME-GI delivery.
Ole Grøne, Senior Vice President Low-Speed Promotion & Sales, MAN Diesel & Turbo said: "We view this latest development in the ME-GI project as very positive. It is immensely encouraging that some of our biggest licensees, based in the greatest shipbuilding countries in the world, are showing such tangible interest in this gas engine."
Mr. Grøne attributed the licensee announcements of full-scale ME-GI demonstrations to customer interest and said: "Over the years, MAN Diesel & Turbo has staged tests in Copenhagen with excellent results where we have improved efficiency and lowered pilot injection volumes, but these full-scale demonstrations mark the most significant milestone yet for the ME-GI."
MAN Diesel & Turbo sees significant opportunities arising for gas-fueled tonnage as fuel prices rise and modern exhaust-emission limits tighten. Research indicates that the ME-GI engine, when combined with exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and waste-heat recovery (WHR) technologies, delivers significant reductions in CO2, NOx and SOx emissions fulfilling Tier-II and Tier-III regulations.
MAN Diesel & Turbo predicts a broad, potential market for its ME-GI engine, extending from LNG and LPG carriers to other oceangoing vessel segments such as containerships as well as ships plying a fixed trade.
March 8, 2012