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Alternative Fuels

Clean tech makes every drop of fuel count, says Simon Potter of Houlder

Clean technologies will complement low and zero carbon fuels and such techs are needed to create zero-carbon ship of the future and to reduce costs in the short term and long term.

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The following is an article written by Simon Potter, Director of Sustainability Advisory to marine engineering consultancy Houlder elaborating the importance of the shipping industry to focus on both clean technologies and future fuels to meet CII, impact the existing fleet now, and ensure less energy-dense future fuels get a helping hand. The article was shared with Singapore-based bunkering publication Manifold Times:

Carbon Intensity Indicator

The shipping industry is witnessing a period of deeply impacting regulation that will require major investment and technological innovation. For example, the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) regulations coming into effect in January 2023, will have a significant impact on owners, operators and maritime operations more broadly. 

There is a real and present risk of unintended consequences emerging from the implementation of CII. The new regulations may encourage the majority of the industry to do little but slow steam and wait for alternative fuels to emerge at scale, rather than invest in the plethora of innovative, commercially ready clean technologies.

While slow steaming to reduce fuel use is better than not acting at all, it is a pessimistic approach. Strategies such as slowing steaming reduce the capacity of the existing fleet, making the challenge of vessel replacement even bigger as worldwide cargo demand continues to grow. Perversely these strategies themselves make the need for energy efficiency and renewable and sustainable propulsion (clean) technology even more important; if the global fleet needs to grow, so too will greenhouse gas emissions. 

It is important that owners and operators do not continue to overlook the ‘quick wins’ – especially to the current fleet – that clean technology represents. The existing global fleet is worth over $1 trillion and therefore must not be ignored. A big chunk of that cost sits on bank balance sheets, which constitutes significant risk if these assets are not managed properly through the industry’s decarbonisation. 

Shipowners need to integrate available clean technologies into their roadmap to immediately drop emissions and fuel consumption while alternative fuels continue to scale up. This also offers the current fleet an opportunity to keep pace with the rapidly accelerating environmental objectives coming from regulators, the market and the end consumer.

A package of solutions

When looking at clean technology and new fuels, It’s not a question of choosing one over the other. Clean technologies will complement low and zero carbon fuels, and we need them to create the zero-carbon ship of the future and to reduce costs in the short term and long term. 

We already have a huge range of options that complement future fuels and reduce carbon emissions. These include wind propulsion, air lubrication, battery energy storage, hull coating technology, hydrodynamic energy saving devices, and voyage optimisation software, to name a few.

At Houlder, we believe there is no single best energy efficiency solution for CII compliance or for shipowners looking to proactively control their own decarbonisation agenda. There are a multitude of clean technologies that can be deployed today, but it is critically important to determine how they can be packaged together for the greatest effect and to achieve the best return on investment.

It is important to research your options in detail. For example, North Star Shipping (NSS) commissioned a comprehensive study to help develop of a greenhouse gas reduction strategy across its fleet of over 40 vessels. An expert team first established the greenhouse gas emissions and carbon intensity of the current fleet and its operations before identifying the most suitable technologies and operational measures to reduce carbon emissions. This includes defining the cost, benefits and timeline for implementation of these technologies.

Every drop counts

It becomes increasingly clear that all low and zero-carbon alternative fuels will be more expensive and less energy-dense than current oil-based fuels – meaning the unequivocal rationale for investment in clean technologies only strengthens further. Any technology that can improve fuel efficiency and can make less potent fuels go further is a valuable asset. 

Regulation may be setting milestones in the shipping industry’s decarbonisation journey, but the damage done by our carbon emissions is cumulative and won’t be reversed by future fuels. The reality is that most new fuels will not be residual, commoditised products for decades – especially for smaller ship owners and operators – and waiting is not an option. Every drop of fuel saved right now matters, and all measures taken now to reduce emissions through clean technologies provide owners with a more optimised path forward towards full decarbonisation in the future. 

Effective decarbonisation strategies must encompass widespread considerations from regulatory requirements and environmental and social governance to green financing, naval architecture and engineering. What’s clear is that adopting the right clean technology today – in combination with an alternative fuels strategy – makes commercial and environmental sense.

 

Photo credit: Houlder
Published: 30 September, 2022

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Ammonia

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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