International Maritime Organization
+ SOLAS II-2 Regulation 17 Alternative design and arrangements
Historically, fuels with a flashpoint below 60 °C are not allowed for merchant vessels, according to SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) 1974. Methanol has a flashpoint of 11 °C, therefore it is considered as an alternative fuel.
Due to stricter EU directives, concerning up- coming sulphur emission regulations in the SECAs, the interest in fuel oil alternatives has grown considerably. To introduce a low flashpoint fuel on a merchant vessel, a risk assessment approach must be followed according to SOLAS Ch. II-2 Reg. 17 - Alternative design and arrangements. This is to ensure that the proposed system has an equivalent level of safety, from a fire safety perspective, as a conventional fuel oil arrangement.
+ Draft Interim Guideline
The interest for alternative fuels for shipping is increasing, therefore IMO has been addressing this, to complement SOLAS II-2 Reg. 17 with additional prescriptive regulations. A new regulatory code is the IGF Code: International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or Other Low-Flashpoint Fuels. The basic philosophy of this Code is to provide mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using low-flashpoint fuel to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, having regard to the nature of the fuels involved. Part A-1 addresses the usage of LNG (Liquified Natural Gas), now the intent is to address other alternative as Methyl and Ethyl alcohols.
Currently IMO develops a document called "DRAFT INTERIM GUIDELINES FOR THE SAFETY OF SHIPS USING METHYL/ETHYL ALCOHOL AS FUEL", with the intent to be a part of the IGF Code. The purpose of this Draft Interim Guideline is same as the basic philosophy for the LNG part. This draft is currently under development and the guideline is not well proven in practice yet. Therefore, it is important that marine methanol projects that implements this guideline challenges it so it can be further improved, to enhance an easy and safe practical implementation.