Smart Green & Integrated Transport- LeanShips

H2020 SC4 Transport

Work Package 5 “Demonstrating the Potential of Methanol as an Alternative Marine Fuel” is carried out as a part of the LeanShips project. LeanShips stands for ‘Low Energy And Near-to-zero emission Ships’. It is a Horizon 2020 (H2020) project funded by the European Commission aimed at developing green shipping technologies and bringing these to the market. One of the seven demonstrators of the LeanShips project is Work Package 5 and aims to demonstrate a high-speed marine diesel engine converted to dual fuel operation on methanol and diesel while achieving significant reductions of emitted pollutants. Next to UGENT, 5 partners are involved in Work Package 5 and in LeanShips in total 42 partners are involved. The project has a duration of four years and is coordinated by Damen Shipyards Gorinchem.

LeanShipsAlthough waterborne transport is an energy efficient means of transport, its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is growing and pollutant emissions are high relative to other forms of transport. Emission legislation on the other hand is catching up by introducing strongly reduced emission limits in the upcoming years, which leads to an urgent need for alternative ways of fueling waterborne transport. In the Horizon 2020 “LeanShips” project, the use of methanol as an alternative fuel for shipping is studied in one of its demonstrators.

A high speed marine diesel engine will be converted to dual fuel operation on methanol, so that the engine will be able to run either in the original fueling mode, or in dual fuel mode using a pilot injection of diesel as ignition source for premixed methanol operation. The conversion will be done in such a way that it can be offered as a retrofit solution. Suitable locations will be searched that would be ideal for pilot projects demonstrating the use of methanol as a fuel for shipping. Two specific pilot studies will be done with end-users and shipyards, one for a SWATH crew transfer vessel and one for a medium sized TSHD (Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger).

Methanol offers several advantages. Some of them are shared with LNG: drastic reduction of emissions of particulate matter, NOx and SOx. Additionally, there is no methane slip, and above all: methanol is a liquid fuel, which greatly facilitates fuel distribution, handling and storage, and thus makes it suitable for a wider range of vessels. Moreover, methanol is one of the most frequently handled chemicals in ports, so it is widely available and it can be produced from a range of renewable and low carbon sources which makes it an ideal path to a sustainable future.


The main objectives of LeanShips - Work Package 5 are:

•    to convert a Volvo Penta D7 engine to dual fuel operation,
•    to map the engine’s potential on power, efficiency and emissions via a detailed engine test bench program
•    to use in a second stage the obtained data in a life cycle assessment for two pilot study vessels.
•    to offer the the conversion as a retrofit solution to the market
•    to publish the results of the test bench program

Role of Ghent University

Ghent University is project leader of Work Package 5. This means that UGENT is responsible for the research activities on the Volvo Penta D7 engine and to coordinate the project with its partners to attain the above mentioned objectives.



Prof. Sebastian Verhelst
Department of Flow, Heat and Combustion Mechanics
Phone number: +32 9 264 3306