GDD performs the world’s first conversion of a container ship to LNG operation
The first feat of strength has been accomplished. With the installation of the gas tank, the conversion of the container ship WES AMELIE at German Dry Docks AG (GDD) in Bremerhaven has entered the decisive phase. The 151-meter-long feeder vessel of the Wessels shipping company from Haren / Ems is the world’s first container carrier, which is being converted to environmentally friendly operation with LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). The use of LNG as a fuel reduces emissions of sulfur oxides by about 99 percent, nitrogen oxides by about 90 percent, of CO2 by up to 25 percent, and almost entirely reduces the emissions of fine dust particles.
The placement of the special tank was the first visible important milestone in the project, which is being promoted by the Federal Ministry of Transport due to its exemplary character. In fact, the work is much more advanced. “Below deck, we are already working on the numerous necessary modifications to the various systems that ensure subsequent safe operation of the LNG system”, reports GDD project manager Thorsten Pohle. The pressure vessel has a capacity of about 500,000 liters of LNG. It was installed by GDD in the bow area, inter alia, because, despite the dimensions of the tank, almost the entire transport capacity of around 1000 TEU could be maintained.
Shipping company sets standards for environmentally friendly LNG expansion
The spectacular conversion is a pilot project of the Wessels shipping company. Over two and a half years ago the shipping company from the Emsland region decided “to make a practical contribution to the environmentally friendly LNG expansion in the maritime industry”, emphasizes Managing Partner Gerd Wessels. The shipping company is convinced “that the gradual retrofitting of shipping units in service will further stimulate the demand for LNG and thus the mandatory expansion of the LNG infrastructure through the supply industry”.
The WES AMELIE, which was only put into service in 2011, was therefore deliberately chosen for the pilot project. Originally built in Bremerhaven, SSW Super 1000 was built 23 times in Germany and China, 16 units are absolutely identical. But not only for this reason, can the experience gained from this pilot project be transferred directly to a number of other ships: The MAN Diesel & Turbo main engine installed on all 16 units is used on 82 ships worldwide. A nearly identical variant for the operation of generators on land has been repeatedly and successfully converted to LNG.
Extensive expertise in shipbuilding and engine sector
In the course of the conversion, the drive system on the WES AMELIE is retrofitted from the formerly heavy-oil engine to dual-fuel operation with liquid and gaseous fuels. For this, not only major modifications to the engine itself but also extensive shipbuilding changes must be made to the freighter and to its ship operating facilities. The Wessels shipping company opted for GDD as an executing company, among other things, because the conversion specialists from the Kaiserhafen also have comprehensive competencies in the engine sector and the related system technology.