Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has developed Japan's first system for supplying high-pressure gas that will enable use of natural gas as fuel for marine engines.

The company partnered with Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (MES) for delivery of the first unit.

The use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel is achievable with the new system and will enable reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared with use of heavy oil fuel, thus contributing to reduced environmental burdens.

Going forward MHI will focus on marketing activities to attract orders for high-value-added ships equipped with the new system as well as external marketing of the system itself in a quest to expand its engineering business.

MHI's new high-pressure gas supply system delivers LNG at 30 megapascals (MPa) gas by liquid pumping, and it is characterized by its compact configuration and less power consumption. Hydraulic driver is adopted for the liquid pump without speed reduction mechanism, which facilitates variable speed adjustment and high flexibility of layout.

The company commercialized the system leveraging its broad technological base and R&D achievements not only in cryogenics field backed with long experience of building of LNG carriers, but also in the area of marine engine field, general machinery and sealing.

The system consists mainly of a unit to transfer LNG at high pressure according to fluctuations in the demand of the engine, a hydraulic unit as power source, a unit to produce a compressed natural gas (CNG) by heating LNG to normal temperature, a CNG bottle unit to buffer the CNG pressure variation and gas combustion unit to safely dispose low pressure off-gas and to use its exhaust heat as heat source.

In combination of the system with 2-stroke, low-speed marine diesel engines, the engine will be a high efficiency propulsion system. . By using LNG as its fuel, an engine integrated with the new system also realizes reductions in emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Delivery of the first unit to MES is slated to take place in early 2013. After installation at MES's Tamano Works in Tamano, Okayama Prefecture, the system will be employed for verification demonstration using marine diesels, which are manufactured by MES.

Presently, as part of measures to prevent global warming, energy savings and reductions in CO2 emissions are vigorously being sought in the area of international marine transportation. In response the Japanese shipbuilding industry is actively developing "eco-ships" that offer enhanced environmental compatibility.

MHI views eco-ships as one of the key high-value-added products its Shipbuilding & Ocean Development business sector is focusing on with the aim of expanding its lineup. At the same time, the company has been strengthening its engineering business in a quest to provide its environment-related technologies to outside entities both in Japan and elsewhere.

Positioning its high-pressure gas supply system as a promising environment-related technology to differentiate the company from its competitors, MHI plans to conduct aggressive marketing activities for the new system.