Dr. Brett conceived and managed the program that built the M.V. MERV I (Methane
Energy Research Vessel), a 70' LNG powered shrimpboat as part of a University of Alabama research program. The vessel was designed, built and operated by the University of Alabama in the Gulf of Mexico for 18 months from June
1987. MERV I was powered by a 300 hp Caterpillar 3406B diesel engine converted to run in dual-fuel mode, using 20% diesel fuel and 80% natural gas at a high load factor.
A dual fuel genset was also used. When
was not available, the engines
operated on conventional diesel fuel. Because LNG is -256° F, the fuel was used to keep the catch frozen as the LNG was
gasified for use in the engine. The University of Alabama also developed the engine
had two cylindrical LNG tanks of 3000 and 2000 gals capacity giving it
an operating range of 300 hrs. The tanks were controlled so LNG could be
transferred to maintain the vessel's balance.
Two diesel fuel wing tanks provided a total of 5000 gals capacity
so the vessel could operate independently on diesel fuel. MERV
I was sold in 1990 and has been operating as a conventional diesel
Although the MERV I was never adopted for use as an LNG powered shrimpboat in a depressed shrimp market, because of its success as a complex demonstration project, it has become a paradigm. MERV I has had a major impact in providing incentives for other LNG powered vehicle projects, both wheeled and marine, throughout the US and internationally. It has also been instrumental in providing data and experience for the development of natural gas marine vessel codes published by the National Fire Prevention Association, NFPA 52 and NFPA 57.
PROJECTS include the design of a natural gas powered 130' offshore
crew/supplyboat for EXXON and the Santa Barbara Air Quality Board. The preliminary design was completed in 1992 and approved by US Coast Guard.
Incentives for the project were lower emissions and the potential savings from the use of lower cost natural gas. A feasibility study evaluating natural gas powered crewboats for AMOCO in the Gulf of Mexico was completed in 1994. Research on the use of LNG
as a fuel for High Speed Sealift Vessels (HSSL) was conducted for a year
with federal support under contract with the University of Alabama in
us for more information on these projects or on the MERV I.
2000, BRETT & WOLFF LLC. All rights reserved.