World’s First Ethane-Powered Ship Engine Completed, 2 More Coming

MESIs this the future of engines for large gas-hauling ships? Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. announced two weeks ago they have completed the world’s very first ethane-operated two-stroke diesel engine. The engine is one of three the company is building to power three LEG (liquefied ethylene gas) tanker ships for Hartmann Schiffahrt of Germany and Ocean Yield of Norway. The ships are being built in China. Why ethane as fuel? For one thing, it’s cheaper than heavy fuel oil (HFO), the traditional fuel source for ship engines. Plus it burns a whole lot cleaner–something increasingly important with new emissions regulations coming along. But the obvious reason is that a tanker full of ethane can always tap into that ethane as fuel for the ship, should the need arise. The Marcellus/Utica produces ethane in abundance and ethane exports now regularly take place via ship from the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. Might we one day see an ethane-powered ship hauling ethane leaving Marcus Hook for Norway? Maybe, since some of the Marcus Hook exports to date have gone to Norway (see Bon Voyage! First Ethane Export Ship Leaves Marcus Hook in Philly). So far eight of the ethane-powered engines have been ordered…

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