Port of Antwerp-Bruges presents world's first methanol-powered tugboat

After launching the world's first hydrogen-powered tugboat late last year, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges on Tuesday unveiled the world's first methanol-powered tugboat: the Methatug. The port authority is currently investigating the feasibility of methanol as a sustainable fuel for shipping.

Announced for 2021, the Methatug uses the engine of an existing tugboat that has been converted to run on a mixture of methanol and conventional fuel. The vessel is 30 metres long and can tow 50 tonnes.

For now, the tug runs on so-called 'grey methanol', which is made from fossil fuels such as natural gas. Eventually, the Methatug will be able to run on cleaner fuels such as green or blue methanol. Grey methanol still releases CO2, but soot and nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced.


"This is a crucial step in our efforts to make our own fleet greener," says Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges. "There are 30,000 tugboats in the world, it is now up to them to follow our example".

The Methatug is part of the European FASTWATER project, which is exploring methanol as a fuel of the future. Ghent University and Belgian engine manufacturer Anglo Belgian Corporation worked on the project, along with partners from Sweden, Canada and Germany.

#FlandersNewsService | FastWater Coordinator Sebastian Verhulst, Antwerp alderwoman Annick De Ridder and Port of Antwerp CEO Jacques Vandermeiren pictured during the official launch of Methatug, the world's first methanol-powered tugboat © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

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