It’s a bit of an experiment. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) announced today that they are modifying the engine of one of their newbuilds and hooking it up to an electrically-controlled injection system that inputs vaporized natural gas, vice heavy fuel oil, into it’s cylinders.
The idea has proven to work on medium speed diesels by Rolls-Royce, Caterpillar, and Wartsila, but this appears to be the first time it’s been tried on a slow-speed diesel engine.
Whether it’s a slow-speed or medium-speed, the principles are the same, but slow speed diesels have one thing that causes issues here. They are generally really big, and require a lot of fuel. And in this case, cryogenically stored fuel. Creating an LNG-powered slow speed will also mean that the engine will have to be significantly larger in order to maintain the same horsepower level because of the fact LNG’s combustion energy is less than that of diesel. Specifically, the cylinders themselves will need to be larger.
The engine will be run with vaporized LNG at MES Tamano Works in the first half of 2013, let’s hope all goes well.