Improving crew safety in handling methanol as a fuel

Key Focus Area:

Maritime Green Technologies

Methanol has gained global attention as a viable alternative, low-carbon fuel for the maritime industry as new methanol fuelled ships and bunker barges are ordered or converted. Singapore successfully conducted the world’s first ship-to-containership methanol bunkering in July 2023, and more such operations will occur in Ports & Terminals globally. How might we ensure that crew safely handles methanol as a fuel with the latest safety technology?


  • Methanol is highly flammable, toxic and fires are invisible to the eyes.
  • It has a faint alcohol odour, and its presence can only be detected by the human nose at 2000ppm, which is 10 times the safe limit.
  • There are increased risks of using methanol as a fuel as it is more flammable than conventional fuel.
  • Singapore has one of the world’s highest frequencies of lightning strikes, so significant concerns exist on methanol fumes being ignited during bunkering.


  • Applicable to crew onboard methanol fuelled vessels and bunker barges which are estimated to reach 1,200 ships globally by the year 2030. Many more ship owners are converting their existing fleet to fuel their ships with Methanol.
  • Terminal workers and truck operators who are involved in the bunkering process will also face similar challenges.


  • Personal gas detectors only measure limited types of gases of a certain concentration.
  • Current sensors are mainly designed and rated for petrochemical plants, and few are designed for ships and seafarers.


  • Cost of ownership.
  • Ability to detect leakages of methanol vapours and invisible flames from ignition.
  • Has to be real-time, taking into account the possibility of limited connectivity onboard ships.
  • Ability to alert crew and/or ship manager before crew enters high-risk areas.
  • Has to be marinised.
  • Should be easy to maintain and calibrate.


  • End to end systems and network for sensing methanol leaks.
  • More effective technology to mitigate the dispersion of methanol fumes out of the vessel.
  • Bunkering vapour return system for capturing methanol fumes.
  • Robotics for ship operations especially for the engine room, pump room, and other enclosed spaces.
  • Metaverse training for crew to raise awareness about precautionary measures.
  • Improved ship design to reduce leakage of methanol.
  • Video analytics that can pick up methanol leakage.

Shortlisted finalists are enrolled in a two-phase, 12-week programme.

Phase 1: Fit Check - Market Discovery and Validation

Kickstart your journey by diving deep into the heart of your market! In this phase, we'll help you answer the pivotal question: Is there a product-market fit for your solution? Validate your tech, test your assumptions, and find the perfect match for your innovation. A review will be conducted at the end of Phase 1. Only selected participants will advance to Phase 2.

Phase 2: Gap Busters - Navigating New Markets

Now, it's time to bridge the commercial gap. In this phase, you’ll partner with industry veterans who bring sharp business insights to the table. Together, you’ll navigate and conquer markets that may be uncharted territory for your startup.

Although the programme is designed for remote and overseas participants, in-person participation is required for the following events conducted in Singapore: