February 21, 2024

Methanol has found some footing as an alternative fuel for commercial shipping, but it remains largely marginal in other transport sectors, including recreational vessels. British design firm Chartwell Marine hopes to chart a new recreational route for the fuel with the help of a £320,000 ($400,000) government grant and a partnership with boatbuilder Archipelago Expedition Yachts. Together, the two will develop Zero.63, an eight-passenger catamaran that can travel thousands of miles while burning only methanol, a cleaner-burning alternative to diesel or natural gas.

Chartwell describes itself as a pioneer in next-generation marine design, with a product portfolio spanning everything from commercial and leisure to offshore wind support. It has won a £320,000 Innovate UK Smart Grant to introduce methanol propulsion technology to new ships. It chose to renew an existing relationship with Archipelago to develop methanol leisure yachts.

Chartwell and Archipelago see methanol ships as a natural alternative to battery-powered electric boats with severely limited range.Although methanol packs less than half Energy Density Marine Diesel Diesel (MDO), which offers better density than batteries, gives the Zero.63 ocean-going capability and an estimated range of 2,000+ nautical miles (3,700+ km).

Zero.63 was developed with ocean voyages in mind
Zero.63 was developed with ocean voyages in mind

Archipelago Yachting

As a liquid at ambient temperature, methanol is also fairly easy to store and distribute as a marine fuel. Archipelago says it can be delivered by tanker to major ports, and the company believes methanol bunkering will become more common as the commercial shipping industry continues to scale up decarbonisation efforts.

“For this project, we wanted to remove some of the noise about electric and hydrogen propulsion, which we felt were not ready for practical implementation on recreational boats,” Archipelago’s managing director, Dr Stephen Weatherley, explained in a note. announcement earlier this month. “Methanol is an alternative fuel that ticks all the boxes for us to be a sustainable, pragmatic and adventurous company, and we are proud to have it at the heart of our latest product introduction to the market.”

Zero.63 will use methanol in two different ways. Twin Enmar direct-injection methanol engines will drive the boats, while a methanol-to-hydrogen fuel cell system will power the house load. A dedicated “methanol room” will house fuel cells worth up to 300 kilowatts, as well as batteries. Plans also call for a 431-square-foot (40-square-meter) solar charging array to be installed on the roof.

An evolution of Archipelago’s 47 catamaran, the new 63-foot (19-meter) catamaran floats on twin aluminum hulls. The raised wet deck is designed to eliminate wave crashing in the high seas and provide smoother, more agile navigation. The Zero.63 has a top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h).

Zero.63 seats up to eight people
Zero.63 seats up to eight people

Archipelago Yachting

The “zero” part of the name and the developer’s claim of a “zero carbon” push can be a bit misleading and needs some qualification. Methanol does burn cleaner than traditional fuels such as marine diesel, with lower emissions of carbon dioxide, particulates, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.However, methanol is still mainly derived from natural gas, which may increase its life-cycle emissions Higher than conventional marine fuel.

Methanol from renewable energies such as agricultural and forestry wastes could significantly invert these figures in favor of methanol, but without mentioning a biomethanol supply partner, it seems likely that Zero.63 owners will source the most readily available And the lowest cost product – effective – methanol from natural gas.But perhaps, driven by a deep-rooted need for full, unassailable praise for the value of their green yachts, Zero.63 owners will go through the hassle of purchasing Greener Methanol.

That said, Zero.63 is more of a proof-of-concept and early experiment in a potential methanol replacement marine application than an immediate and ground-breaking revolution in green yachting. If a renewables-focused methanol production ecosystem develops, it could provide the basis for cleaner methanol-fueled long-distance expedition yachts. Alternatively, it could serve as a niche experimental vehicle, the Gumpert Nathalie for the high seas.

“We see the Archipelago Zero.63 not only as a complete market first in its own right, but also as a perfect proof-of-concept for the future application of methanol propulsion technology in the offshore wind vessel sector,” Chartwell Director Andy Page added.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but the £1.2 million (about $1.5 million) 2023 base price for the smaller Archipelago 47 gives an idea of ​​the pitches buyers will be part of. For those not quite ready to go all out on methanol, Archipelago will also offer 63-foot yachts with diesel powertrains.

source: Chartwell and archipelago