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An Italian company, working in the marine sector, developed and tested a new dual-fuel (normal fuel + liquified gas or methane) retrofit solution for marine power engines.
The company is looking for a joint venture agreement.
An Italian ship-builder company, with an established experience in design and production of rubber dinghies, rafts and boats, has developed and field-tested a dual-fuel retrofitting system applicable to both new and after-market boats.
The control unit of the device coordinates the use of the alternative fuel loaded in housed appropriately inside the boat. With a simple three-position switch you can set the preferred method of use: gasoline only, gas only or mixed gas / gasoline.
The engineering has been developed in collaboration with a company operating in the power engines sector.
The use of dual-fuel power engines for terrestrial vehicles is common practice. New vehicles can leave the factory ready for dual fuel powering, or adaptation kits can be added to old vehicles (be they gasoline powered or equipped with a diesel engine) for their use with liquified natural gas (LNG) liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or pressurised methane/compressed natural gas (CNG).
Nonetheless, this technology has not yet entered the marine sector.
The well-known advantages of the engines powered by gas can be summarised as follows: cleaner combustion with reduced particulates, reduced smoke and smells, overall environmental impact lowered by 70%-90% relative to normal gasoline or diesel engines, maximum attainable power almost unchanged (±10% of the original one), tangible savings in operating costs.
The so-called "hybrid ecological boat" has transferred the dual-fuel approach to the marine sector. The particular problem of connection of the motor to the tank with a rigid piping has been solved, showing to reliably work also for outboard motors steered and equipped with "trim tilt" (vertical angle adjustment).
Nonetheless obstacles are still present for a successful break-in of this technology.
The main problem is the current non-existent distribution of gas on the marinas, due to the lack of legislation, in Italy at least. Another limitation is the regulation on the approval of non-liquid fuel vessels and contained in tanks with free air and vent valves.
Joint venture agreements are sought with industrial partners to overcome bottlenecks and obstacles to market development.
The advantages of dual-fuel powering in the boat sector are the same already listed and witnessed in the road transport sector, in particular: reduced emissions, reduced smoke and particulates, overall savings, environmental advantages.
The present technology, although consolidated in the automotive sector, is quite innovative in the boat sector.
Another international company is known for having produced a small marine engine LPG fuelled, but the system is not modularly transferable to other engines. On the contrary, the technical solutions tested so far allow for an easy adaptation to outboard motors and beyond. So, at the moment, no competitors seem to exist in this field. In particular, the proposed technology stands as a pioneer in the segment of recreational boating.
The technology is designed to guarantee the use of CNG/LNG and LPG as an additive or as an alternative to the traditional fuel on most of the engines already available on the market, both diesel and gasoline ones.
The ROI (Return On Investment) is strongly dependant on the number of hours of navigation per year, but in most cases the payback is guaranteed through fuel expenses savings.
Joint venture agreements are sought with industrial partners able to:
- investigate the problems connected to the development/building of gas/biogas supply stations on harbours and propose pathways to overcome them;
- develop proposals and projects for innovative biogas stations with fuel generated by gasification/sterilisation of slurry with high organic content;
- provide services for the certification/approval of retrofit kits for marine application;
- give assistance in promoting the "hybrid ecological boat" philosophy and its adoption by shipping companies;
- share labour and expenses for protecting the business and to enhance the industrial and commercial activity.