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LNG equipment conversion pilot at APM Terminals Barcelona delivers environmental benefits

  • The Port of Barcelona, APM Terminals Barcelona, HAM and Naturgy successfully conclude a pilot to test the viability of natural gas as a fuel in port equipment

In a project co-financed by the European Union, the Port of Barcelona, APM Terminals Barcelona, HAM and Naturgy recently concluded a pilot which tested the viability of using natural gas as a fuel in port equipment. For the project, an APM Terminals Barcelona straddle carrier was converted to natural gas. The results were positive, with a certified reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, specifically CO and CO2, compared to diesel-powered machines.

On the test bench, fuel consumption reduced by 11%, which could provide an economic boost for the transformation or purchase of new gas-powered machines. Total hydrocarbon emissions were also reduced through the use of natural gas, according to tests carried out with APM Terminals Barcelona's straddle carrier. To achieve a reduction in nitrogen oxides, the tests concluded that the installation of catalytic converters is required.

The project to upgrade the straddle carrier to natural gas began in January 2016. With a budget of 1.22 million euros, it is part of the Core LNGas hive project, coordinated by Enagás. 42 partners are  participating in 14 studies and 11 pilot projects. The Core LNGas hive project has an overall budget of 33.3 million euros and is 50% co-financed by the European Union's CEF programme.

For the straddle carrier adaption project, Idiada, a leading Catalan multinational in the sector of engineering and homologation for the automotive sector, was responsible for modifying the diesel engine for use with natural gas. This involved machining the cylinder head and cylinders, installing gas injectors and changing electronics and engine sensors.

Comparible performance with lower emissions

Tests, carried out on Idiada Powertrain’s test bench and at APM Terminals Barcelona’s facilities, verified that engines converted to 100% natural gas could provide the required performance while producing lower emissions. Idiada carried out emissions measurement tests using a Portable Emissions Measurement System. 

APM Terminals Barcelona, was in charge of the assembly and commissioning of the converted straddle carrier. The main challenge for the pilot was to ensure that it didn’t disturb ongoing operations at the terminal and did not increase safety risks for port workers. The terminal carried out a number of risk studies to determine the feasibility of using natural gas and the implmentation of safety measures, such as maintaining a distance of 25 metres during LNG refuelling. The machine was able operate within the terminal's normal operations, with similar autonomy to diesel.

HAM, a family-owned company headquartered in Abrera (Barcelona) with a network of gas stations and liquefied natural gas (LNG) transport facilities in Europe, installed a 600-litre LNG tank and a piping system to feed the converted engine. It also enabled LNG refuelling using a new mobile refuelling station, developed to operate in different locations in accordance with all safety measures.

Naturgy carried out an LNG supply logistics study, both from a technical and economic point of view. Studying the different supply alternatives for terminal equipment was a critical part of the project, as such equipment cannot simply drive to the nearest gas station. The most viable option was the use of a mobile station developed by HAM.

Target to reduce emissios by 100%

The Port of Barcelona coordinated the project, both technically and financially, and carried out the safety studies. Reducing pollutant emissions and greenhouse gases by 100% by 2050, is one of the Port of Barcelona's priorities and in line with the objectives of the European Union and the International Maritime Organisation. The Port of Barcelona is committed to the introduction of new, cleaner fuels, such as hydrogen, biomethane and ammonia, for ships, terminal equipment and land transport.