The world’s first methanol-propelled pilot boat has been launched by the Fastwater project, a consortium of Europe’s maritime research and technology leaders set to demonstrate the feasibility of retrofit and newbuild vessels operating on methanol.

Launched ahead of schedule, a Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) pilot boat was converted to run on methanol. This 14.4m-long and 4.6m-wide pilot boat 120 SE operates on a single methanol-fuelled engine. It features a fixed propeller and a compression-ignited Methanol-MD97 engine, which has diesel-like performance. The engine’s power goes up to 415kW at 2100rpm.

Fredrik Backman, Head of Shipping Management at SMA, said: ‘Our redesigned pilot boat is an important piece of the puzzle in our larger and broader transition work towards a completely fossil-free boat and ship fleet. The pilot boat will now be trialled, something that happens through many hours of tough and continuous testing.’

In addition to the pilot boat, consortium members intend to demonstrate feasibility on two more vessels running on methanol fuel – a harbour tug and a coastguard vessel.

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