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Alternative Fuels

Bio-bunkers are the immediate alternatives to reduce gas emissions, says study

Biodiesel blends, in particular the second-generation renewable diesels such as HVO, could be a serious alternative to VLSFO, suggests Blend Tiger LLC whitepaper.




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The following are extracts from a recently published whitepaper by Eliseo Curcio and Michele Miceli from American fuels blending consulting company Blend Tiger LLC on “Bio-Bunkers: A today alternative to energy transition”, that was supplied to Manifold Times. 

  1. Biodiesel as a main alternative for Bio-Bunker

Biodiesel fuels represent a real alternative to the VLSFO. They have very similar properties compared with fossil-based fuels and shipowners don’t require a massive re-style of their engine system. Everybody can start using them today.

In order to fully understand the biofuel market lets evaluate the pros and cons in depth.

There are two classes of biofuels commercially available and ready to be used:

  • First Generation Bio-diesel which is FAME (Fatty-Acid-Methyl-Ester).

Bio-bunkers are the only immediate alternatives to reduce gas emissions, says study

  • Second Generation or Renewable Diesel meaning everything that is not FAME.

The main difference between Biodiesel and Renewable diesel is the way they are produced. Biodiesel is created through a method called transesterification. Renewable diesel is produced using a method called hydrotreating, which involves hydrogenating triglycerides (fats) to remove metals and compounds containing nitrogen and oxygen. Also, HVO (Hydrotreated vegetable oil) can be classified depending the feedstock adopted.

We will soon have additional large-scale options available in the industry:

-  BIOBASED SYNTHETIC LIQUIDS. It is possible to obtain advanced bio-oils such as Hydrotreated Pyrolysis Oils (HDPOs) through thermochemical processes and Fischer-Tropsch liquids (FT) from the forest and agro-industrial residues. The products of this process are hydrocarbon fractions like those obtained in a refinery, mainly FT-naphtha, with a higher market value compared to fractions suitable for the marine sector for which FT-diesel or FT-gasoil, produced in smaller quantities, are appropriate.

-BIOBASED ALCOHOLS AND LIQUEFIED GASES. The latter group consists of biobased gases and alcohols, including liquefied biomethane (bio-GNL), biomethanol, and bioethanol, which require specially designed engines and infrastructure for their use.   

Bio-bunkers are the only immediate alternatives to reduce gas emissions, says study

Here is an example of a biofuel scheme:

First Generation of Biodiesel (or FAME) has a higher flash point (149°C) and cetane number than conventional diesel, providing good ignition and lubrication properties. However, FAMEs have a high cloud point, which can cause clogged filters and poor fuel flow at temperatures below 32°C.  Their addition reduces smoke, soot, and burnt diesel smell from the engine exhaust. 

The main technical disadvantage of biodiesel over petrol-diesel is the lower thermal energy due to higher oxygen content which also results in lower oxidation stability. Another major concern related to the use of biodiesel is the contamination by water, which results in biofuel decomposition, reducing fuel efficiency, soliciting microbial growth, and accelerating fuel gelation at low temperatures. 

FAME cannot be used at 100% in diesel engines due to the presence of fatty acids that can cause anomalies in currently used diesel engines. For this reason, it is added in a mixture with petrol-diesel between 5-30%, respecting the specifications outlined in the standards: EN 14214 or ASTM D6751.  

There are several standards covering biofuels addressing either technical or sustainability aspects. The ISO 8217:2017, the commercial specification for marine fuels defines requirements for fuel used in marine diesel engines and boilers and their conventional treatment on board (sedimentation, centrifuging, filtering) before use. While this standard did not allow FAME to be blended with regular marine distillate or residual fuels in the past, its sixth edition introduces the DF (Distillate FAME) grades DFA, DFZ and DFB. These grades allow up to 7% of FAME content by volume and are also covered by the European standard EN590. Apart from this aspect, all other parameters of these grades are identical to those of traditional grades. The limitations mentioned above do not apply to HVO, which is classified as a DM (distillate) under the ISO standard, provided that certain conditions are met.

For these reasons our research is highly focused on second generation biofuels, for example HVO. 

Properties of HVO have many more similarities with high quality sulphur free fossil diesel fuel than with FAME. As a matter of fact, the properties of renewable diesel are very similar to the synthetic gas-to-liquid (GTL) diesel fuels. Also, the same analytical methods as used with fossil fuels are valid for renewable diesel.

Some of the strong aspects of HVO are:

  • Highest heating value among conventional biofuels.

Higher energy content compared to FAME, both in MJ/kg and MJ/l.

The heating value of HVO (34.4MJ/l) is substantially higher than that of ethanol (21.2MJ/l).

  • Severe winter and arctic grades available due to the isomerization process.

Cold properties of HVO can be adjusted to meet the local requirements by adjusting the severity of the process or by additional catalytic processing.

“Cold Filter Plugging Point” (CFPP) can go down to -20°C or even -50°C irrespective of the feedstock used. This makes HVO suitable for use during cold winters even in Nordic countries as well as for use as jet fuel.

  • Low density. Sulphur-free and very low aromatics. 

Practically free of metals and ash-forming elements.

  • It behaves in logistics, storage and use like fossil diesel fuel (drop-in fuel).

No issues with: stability, water separation, microbiological growth, impurities causing precipitation above cloud point. They can be used in diesel engines without blend walls or the modifications required for FAME biodiesel.

The amount of HVO produce is growing year after year not only in North America, but around the World. It can be a real alternative to fossil-based fuels:

Bio-bunkers are the only immediate alternatives to reduce gas emissions, says study

HVO price is very volatile and it is classified in three different categories (I, II and III), depending the feedstock utilized to produce it.


The year 2022 is definitely the year where everybody “discovered” renewables and GHG’s threat to Humanity. In the next year, the goal should be to find an alternative fuel to the current VLSFO that brings carbon emissions close to zero and decreases the NOx. Many alternatives have been proposed, from LNG, Hydrogen, Ammonia, Green Methanol and Biofuels. We are exploring a new territory so even the regulations are not clear on what to do and what not to do. The capital investments for new fuels are quite high, and if you are not a multi-billion dollar shipping company, it is very complicated to find the right cash flow to refurbish your current fuel system. For all those reasons, biodiesel blends, in particular the second-generation renewable diesels, HVO, could be a serious alternative to VLSFO. They have very similar properties compared to fossil-fuel based diesel and decrease CO2 and NOx emissions. A healthy percentage of HVO to be used in the blend must take into account prices and properties. New studies highlight the possibility of having HVO 100 wt%, but the price is still relatively high ($2000/ton). Let’s invest in the present. Renewable diesel blends are the immediate solution Worldwide.


Photo credit and source: Blend Tiger LLC
Published: 30 May, 2022

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HD KSOE receives Lloyd’s Register AiP for ammonia fuel supply system

Fuel supply system addresses the pressing need for sustainable fuel solutions, significantly contributing to efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the global fleet, says LR.





HD KSOE receives LR AiP for ammonia fuel supply system

Classification society Lloyd’s Register (LR) has granted Approval in Principle (AiP) to HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (HD KSOE) for their ammonia fuel supply system, which will be used on ammonia new constructions.

The newly developed ammonia fuel supply system shows complete compatibility with high-efficiency cargo handling systems and ammonia engines.

The approval certifies the fuel supply system against LR’s rigorous risk-based certification (RBC-1) process and marks the successful conclusion of a Joint Development Project (JDP) between LR and HD KSOE, which began in April 2024.

The primary objective of the JDP was to develop and refine the design concept of an ammonia fuel supply system for ammonia-fuelled vessels.

LR said the AiP represents the substantial step that LR and HD KSOE have taken towards pioneering innovative solutions for emission reduction in the maritime industry.

“Ammonia, with its capacity to meet the rising demand for emission reduction solutions, represents a promising alternative fuel for the maritime industry,” it said.

“This fuel supply system addresses the pressing need for sustainable fuel solutions, significantly contributing to efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the global fleet.”  

Young-Doo Kim, Global Technical Support Office Representative for Korea, Lloyd’s Register, said: “This approval in principle represents another significant step for developing the technology required for shipowners and operators' adoption of ammonia, one of the primary candidate fuels for the maritime energy transition.”

“We are pleased to continue our strong working relationship with HD KSOE through this joint project that will provide a valuable solution for ammonia propelled ships.”

Young-jun Nam, Vice Present & COO of HD KSOE, said: “Ammonia is a zero-carbon fuel that is attracting great attention in terms of economics and supply stability. HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering will lead the field of eco-friendly equipment and materials to take the lead in commercialising ammonia in 2025.”


Photo credit: Lloyd’s Register
Published: 25 June, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Erik Thun takes delivery of LNG dual-fuel tanker “Thun Vettern”

Vessel, which is the latest contribution to the Vinga-series, has dual-fuel capability, runs on LNG/LBG or gasoil and is fully equipped for shore power connection when available in ports.





Erik Thun takes delivery of LNG dual-fuel tanker “Thun Vettern”

Shipping firm Erik Thun on Monday (24 June) said it has taken delivery of Thun Vettern, a 17,999-dwt vessel, which was built by China Merchants Jinling Shipyard in Yangzhou.

The vessel is an upgraded version of the sister Thun Venern. Thun Vettern is the latest contribution to the “Vinga-series”, all trading within the Gothia Tanker Alliance. The Thun Vettern is the newest and latest edition to the Vinga-series and she has ice class 1A. 

The vessels in the Vinga-series all have dual-fuel capability, run on LNG/LBG or gasoil and are fully equipped for shore power connection when available in ports.

They are designed with a battery hybrid solution and several innovative features that reduce fuel and energy consumption, resulting in extensively lowered emissions of CO2, sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and hazardous particles. 

The firm said the ships have scored the best Energy Efficiency Design Index or EEDI value in their segment globally, meaning that they are the most energy efficient vessels according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). 

The Vinga-series is designed for the intense and demanding trade in the North Sea and Scandinavia, well suited to meet the growing European demand for biofuels and renewable feedstocks.

Erik Thun´s close partner Furetank will technically and commercially manage the new vessel which upon delivery will enter into the Gothia Tanker Alliance network.

“Sustainability work has always been and will be a focus ahead for Erik Thun. To take delivery of a resource efficient, top performing product tanker like Thun Vettern, and further deepen our good and long-term co-operation with Furetank is a great example of our vision to be a sustainable Swedish partner over generations,” said Johan Källsson, Managing Director at Erik Thun AB.


Photo credit: Erik Thun
Published: 25 June, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Wärtsilä on LNG bunker fuel: Expert answers to 17 important questions

Firm gives an expert overview on top questions on LNG bunker fuel including if LNG is a future fuel and what does LNG being a transition fuel means.





RESIZED Chris Pagan

Technology group Wärtsilä on Wednesday (19 June) gave an expert overview on top 17 questions related to LNG bunker fuel in this insight article including if LNG is a future fuel: 

Your choice of fuel affects both your profitability and your vessel’s environmental compliance. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a safe and cost-effective fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants. LNG is playing a key role as a transition fuel and is widely seen as the first step towards decarbonising the maritime industry.

Switching to LNG as fuel for ship propulsion requires investment but can save you fuel costs, increase your profitability and reduce compliance risks. The expert answers to these 17 questions will tell you what you need to know about LNG as an alternative fuel for shipping.

What is LNG?

LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to -162°C (-260°F), turning it into a clear, odourless liquid that is easy to ship and store. LNG is typically 85–95% methane, which contains less carbon than other forms of fossil fuels. It is a compact, efficient form of energy that is ideal for ship propulsion.

What is LNG used for?

LNG is primarily used as a clean-burning energy source. It is used for electricity generation, heating, cooking, and as a transportation fuel. LNG is also used as a raw material for products like fertilisers and plastics.

In the shipping industry, LNG as fuel is used for ship propulsion, auxiliary power generation and other onboard energy needs. LNG as an alternative fuel for shipping has gained wide popularity due to its clean-burning properties and potential to help meet stricter emissions regulations.

What are the sources of LNG as fuel for ships? What is bioLNG?

LNG as fuel for ships is produced from natural gas extracted from underground reserves, including both onshore and offshore gas fields.

BioLNG is LNG produced from biogas, which is generated from organic waste like food scraps, agricultural waste, manure and sewage sludge. BioLNG is considered a renewable fuel and can further reduce the carbon footprint of ships using LNG fuel systems.

 Is LNG just methane?

LNG is primarily methane (typically 85–95%), but it also contains small amounts of ethane, propane and other hydrocarbons. LNG can also contain trace amounts of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The exact composition of LNG may vary depending on the source of the natural gas and the liquefaction process used.

 LNG fuel vs. fuel oil: is LNG better than diesel?

Compared to diesel fuel oil, LNG offers several advantages. LNG produces significantly lower emissions when burned, including:

  • 20–30% less CO2 
  • 15-25% less total GHG
  • 90% less NOx 
  • 99% less SOx 
  • Almost no particulate matter (PM) 

LNG engines are also quieter. 

However, LNG has a lower energy density than diesel, so using LNG as an alternative fuel for shipping will require more fuel and therefore larger fuel tanks to achieve the same range.

 What are the advantages and disadvantages of LNG fuel?

The key advantages of LNG as fuel include reduced emissions and cost competitiveness. There is also an established and continuously growing global network of LNG bunkering facilities.

The disadvantages of using LNG as fuel for ships include the need for specialised equipment and training and the potential for methane slip.

Methane slip is when unburned methane, a potent greenhouse gas, escapes into the atmosphere. Modern dual-fuel engines will minimise this issue. Depending on engine type and load, you can reduce methane slip by up to 65% by upgrading your ship’s existing engines. Over the last 30 years, Wärtsilä has reduced the methane slip from its engines by around 90%.

 Is LNG environmentally friendly?

LNG is cleaner burning than traditional marine fuels, but it is still a fossil fuel. BioLNG, which is LNG produced from organic waste or biomass, can be considered a more sustainable alternative to fossil-based LNG as it has a lower carbon footprint. However, the production and combustion of bioLNG still emit some greenhouse gases. LNG can be seen as a bridging fuel in the transition to alternative fuels like methanol and ammonia, which aren’t yet widely available at scale.

 Is LNG a future fuel?

LNG both is and isn’t a future fuel. It enables lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduces other harmful air pollutants compared to fuel oil, but it is still a fossil fuel. Sustainable future fuels are crucial for maritime decarbonisation, but the current cost, limited availability and insufficient infrastructure are challenging for operators. This gives LNG an important role to play in the shipping industry’s transition to a zero-carbon future.

As more ports develop LNG bunkering infrastructure and more ships are built with LNG fuel systems, the use of LNG as an alternative fuel for shipping is expected to increase. LNG is considered a stepping stone on the path to decarbonisation as the industry moves closer to using true future fuels such as methanol and ammonia.

Note: The full article by Wärtsilä can be found here.


Photo credit: Chris Pagan on Unsplash
Published: 24 June, 2024

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