Technical reliability of shipboard technologies for the application of alternative fuels

Popp L, Müller K (2021)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2021


Book Volume: 11

Journal Issue: 1

DOI: 10.1186/s13705-021-00301-9


Background Naval traffic is highly dependent on depleting fossil resources and causes significant greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, marine transportation is a major backbone of world trade. Thus, alternative fuel concepts are highly needed. Different fuels such as ammonia, methanol, liquefied natural gas and hydrogen have been proposed. For some of them, first prototype vessels have been in operation. However, practical experience is still limited. Most studies so far focus on aspects such as efficiency and economics. However, particularly in marine applications, reliability of propulsion systems is of utmost importance, because failures on essential ship components at sea pose a huge safety risk. If the respective components lose their functionality, repair can be much more challenging due to large distances to dockyards and the complicated transport of spare parts to the ship. Consequently, evaluation of reliability should be a core element of system analysis for new marine fuels. Results In this study, reliability was studied for four potential fuels. The analysis involved several steps: estimation of overall failure rates, identification of most vulnerable components and assessment of criticality by including severity of fault events. On the level of overall failure rate, ammonia is shown to be very promising. Extending the view over a pure failure rate-based evaluation shows that other approaches, such as LOHC or methanol, can be competitive in terms of reliability and risk. As different scenarios require different weightings of the different reliability criteria, the conclusion on the best technology can differ. Relevant aspects for this decision can be the availability of technical staff, high-sea or coastal operation, the presence of non-naval personnel onboard and other factors. Conclusions The analysis allowed to compare different alternative marine fuel concepts regarding reliability. However, the analysis is not limited to assessment of overall failure rates, but can also help to identify critical elements that deserve attention to avoid fault events. As a last step, severity of the individual failure modes was included. For the example of ammonia, it is shown that the decomposition unit and the fuel cell should be subject to measures for increasing safety and reducing failure rates.

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Popp, L., & Müller, K. (2021). Technical reliability of shipboard technologies for the application of alternative fuels. Energy, Sustainability and Society, 11(1).


Popp, Lukas, and Karsten Müller. "Technical reliability of shipboard technologies for the application of alternative fuels." Energy, Sustainability and Society 11.1 (2021).

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