Archipelago Yachts, in collaboration with Chartwell Marine has released designs of its new methanol-powered boat - the Archipelago zero.63

Methanol-powered boats have been talked about for some time, ever since the adoption of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) interim guidelines for ships using methyl or ethyl alcohol as fuel.

The Danish shipping company Maersk was one of the first to take advantage of this, ordering 24 methanol-powered ships, which are expected to be sailing in 2030. A test sail of the first 172m ship, from South Korea to Denmark, took place in August.

And now this new technology looks poised to enter the recreational boat market.

Archipelago Yachts, in collaboration with Chartwell Marine, has unveiled designs for the Archipelago zero.63 – the “world-first methanol-powered leisure vessel.”

The methanol-powered boat has a parallel hybrid system, which combines the energy derived from a pair of methanol reformers and hydrogen fuel cells.

Plan of the power set up on a methanol-powered boat

Plan of the methanol propulsion system

This allows the vessel to cruise silently at speeds of up to 10 knots.

For high-speed performance, the design includes a direct-injection methanol engine, enabling the boat to reach a top speed of 22 knots.

With a 10,000-litre methanol tank, the range of the Archipelago zero.63 is around 2,500 nautical miles.

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It is built from aluminium and has four cabins to accommodate up to eight people.

With the design phase, which was carried out in collaboration with Lloyd’s Register, now complete, Archipelago Yachts and Chartwell Marine will begin building the Methanol Pathfinder UK, a “one-of-a-kind demonstrator vessel that will showcase the potential of methanol as a marine fuel, leading the way towards a greener future for the marine industry.”

The project is receiving funding from the UK Government via the Innovate UK Smart Grant, and aligns with Innovate UK’s Transport Vision 2050 which aims to incorporate methanol as a viable marine fuel, targeting approximately 25% usage by 2050.

Design of a ethanol-powered boat

The methanol-powered Archipelago zero.63 will be built from low-impact aluminium, using recycled materials wherever possible

The managing director of Chartwell Marine, Andy Page, said: “utilising methanol as a feedstock for onboard propulsion and hotel loads is a real alternative to using diesel.”

“The system developed for the zero.63 is simple, robust and manageable in terms of weight and geometry without significant compromise to the vessel aesthetic, interior or function. Using a parallel-hybrid propulsion system allows owners to operate the yacht silently using electric propulsion, as well as methanol combustion for high speed operation,” he added.

A render of teh Archipelago zero.63

Methanol-powered boat: the Archipelago zero.63 is 63ft long, and can accommodate up to eight people

Methanol is seen as an alternative biofuel for engines, but this clear liquid is toxic, flammable and potentially explosive.

According to the Methanol Institute, methanol is a clean-burning biodegradable fuel, which makes it “an attractive alternative fuel for powering vessels and ships”

However, it is also hygroscoptic, which means it will absorb water vapour directly from the atmosphere, which can lead to the growth of diesel bug.

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