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Tuesday, June 25, 2019 

With the theme 'Meeting the Future of Combustion Engines', the CIMAC World Congress took place in Vancouver, Canada, in June 2019, again demonstrating its facility for bringing together the large engine industry stakeholders.

While the minds of arriving delegates were already strongly focussed on the issues facing the large engine industry, the actions of climate change protesters around the world added a further incentive to make the most of the large engine industry’s foremost forum for information exchange and consensus forming.

Over 800 took part in CIMAC’s triennial congress, and no one left in any doubt that reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) is the biggest challenge facing the large engine industry. The industry is contending with the IMO decarbonisation strategy targeting total annual GHG emissions from international shipping as a whole, while the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change calls for efforts to phase out GHG emissions in their entirety.

These two requirements have led to predictions that new ships will need to be completely climate-neutral by as early as 2030. What is undoubtedly true is that the large engine industry is facing paradigm changes, and this was reflected in the majority of papers. Mirroring the fact that engine efficiency has always been a primary goal of researchers and developers, a host of papers presented advances in traditional technologies with the potential to deliver useful contributions to GHG reduction via improved fuel efficiency.

Many papers, and the Congress’ panels and speeches, looked at the radical solution: zero carbon fuels or fuels with greatly reduced CO2 emissions. The open panel discussions, in particular, led to controversial exchanges on suitable solutions for the future, including, prominently, the “power-to-fuel” strategy.

The conclusion was that achieving the levels of GHG reduction prescribed is a mammoth undertaking and there can be no all-embracing 'silver bullet' that will enable the IMO and Paris goals to be met. Options such as biofuels offer a partial answer while synthetic fuels will be necessary to ensure the engine industry can meet all expectations.

Other major industry concerns under discussion included the 2020 Sulphur Cap, digitalisation and hybridisation.

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