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Stena Line first to use ‘Blue Methanol’ to power passenger ferry

This week Sweden-headed ferry operator Stena Line took the next step on its sustainable journey towards achieving zero carbon when the Stena Germanica sailed from Sweden to Germany powered by ‘Blue Methanol’ – methanol produced using recycled carbon from residual steel off-gases, a by-product of the steel industry. The blue methanol reduces the ferry’s reliance on fossil diesel, thus lowering the vessel’s overall carbon emissions further.

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Retrofitted in 2015 with a first-of-its-kind fuel-flexible Wärtsilä 4-stroke engine, Stena Germanica is the world’s first commercial methanol-powered vessel. It has been successfully operating on methanol providing a ferry service between Gothenburg, Sweden, and Kiel, Germany ever since. On June 22, 2021, the vessel has completed its first voyage using ‘Blue Methanol’ – methanol produced using recycled carbon from residual steel off-gases, a by-product of the steel industry.

In 2015 Stena Line made history by converting the dual-fuel system onboard one of the largest RoPax ferries in the world, the 240-metre Stena Germanica, to allow the vessel to run on both methanol and diesel fuel making it the world’s first methanol-powered RoPax (passenger and freight) ferry.

Stena Line developed it with several partners, including Methanex, Wärtsilä, and EU’s Motorways of the Seas project. The conversion project was the first of its kind in the world and was so unique that it established methanol as a marine fuel for the first time ever.

Now the Swedish ferry company has achieved another world first, by powering Stena Germanica, which operates on the Gothenburg – Kiel route, with ‘Blue Methanol’, methanol derived from recycled steel industry off-gases. By making Stena Germanica blue, the new fuel helps the vessel become a shade greener.

It is exciting to be part of our sustainable journey and try out another new sustainable fuel. I can confirm that we sailed with the new fuel from Gothenburg to Kiel on June 22 and it worked very well, said Peter Holm, Chief Engineer Stena Germanica.

Recycled carbon and lower emissions

While fossil-derived methanol is still a fossil fuel, it is much cleaner than traditional marine fuels. Emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) are reduced by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 60 percent.

At the same time, the steel industry and the maritime sector are two of the world’s biggest emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), accounting for 6-8 percent and around 2.5 percent of all CO2 emissions respectively.

The FReSMe project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation program (Grant number 727504), aims to demonstrate the whole process that enables the CO2 captured from the steel industry to produce methanol fuel that will be used as fuel in the shipping sector.

This collaboration between the steel and the maritime sectors is the first of its kind and demonstrates that by working together companies from different backgrounds can greatly improve their impact on the climate. For Stena Line, this is another successful proof of concept for our methanol conversion ferry and a further bridge towards our aim of fossil-free shipping, said Erik Lewenhaupt, Head of Sustainability Stena Line Group.

Stena Line – a leader in sustainable shipping

Stena Line is one of the largest and leading ferry operators in the world with 37 vessels operating on 37 ferry routes across Europe. The Swedish ferry company is also a leader in sustainable shipping and is currently 10 years ahead of the international maritime emission reduction targets.

By 2030 the company aims to reduce its total CO2 emissions by 30 percent. An important key to success is to increase the use of alternative fuels, such as methanol, hydrogen, and battery power.


About FReSMe

The FReSMe project (2017 – 2021) aims to demonstrate the whole process that enables carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from the steel industry to produce methanol fuel that will be used as fuel in the ship transportation sector. The project integrates the technology coming from two previous EU-funded projects: STEPWISE, which is focused on CO2 capture, and MefCO2, which improves the technology to produce methanol from CO2. The concept will be demonstrated in an industrial environment. The methanol produced will be applied in an end-user demonstration. The implementation of FReSMe encompasses lab developments supporting the technology improvement; modelling and simulation in order to optimize the processes; pilot plant construction and test campaigns implementation; life cycle analysis (LCA) to evaluate the actual reduction achieves on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and end-user demonstration using the methanol produced in a methanol-powered ferry.

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