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Dutch university leads consortium IDEALFUEL to develop renewable marine fuel

19 May 2020

Netherlands-based Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in early May said it will be leading the consortium IDEALFUEL that seeks to address this issue by developing new, efficient and low-cost methods to produce low-sulphur heavy fuel oils from wood-based non-food biomass. 

The project has received a EUR 5 million (USD 5.5 million) grant from the European Union’s Horizon2020 programme, and officially started on Friday May 1st 2020, it said.

TU/e noted ships are crucial for the transportation of goods around the world, but many are operating on heavy fuel oils (HFOs) leading to the emission of pollutants into the world’s oceans and atmosphere. 

Although cleaner fuels are available, many companies opt for HFOs due to their low cost, it said. 

Due to the environmental concerns and the national and international regulations associated with HFOs, there is considerable need for low-cost, cleaner and renewable alternatives to HFOs for the maritime industry. 

This is the problem that the IDEALFUEL consortium will address, it said.

“IDEALFUEL is aiming to develop methods to convert woody materials such as sawdust and wood chips into renewable marine fuels,” said TU/e

The approach revolves around the conversion of lignin – the polymer found in the structural materials of plants and trees – from dry plant matter (otherwise known as lignocellulosic biomass) into renewable fuels, it explained.

Leading the project of 11 participants based in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Spain is Dr. Roy Hermanns (Mechanical Engineering, TU/e).

To achieve its goal, IDEALFUEL plans to devise an efficient and low-cost two step chemical process, noted the university. 

In the first step, lignin is extracted from lignocellulosic biomass in the form of Crude Lignin Oil (CLO), leaving behind a solid cellulose material that can be used in the paper industry or even converted into ethanol. 

In the second step, the CLO is refined and converted into a Biogenic Heavy Fuel (Bio-HFO) that can used in combination with traditional fossil fuels in a fuel blend or neat in the engines of the world’s maritime fleet.

Other participants from across the EU include: Vertoro B.V. (NL), Tec4Fuels GmbH (DE), BLOOM Biorenewables Sarl (CH), Uniresearch B.V. (NL), Winterthur Gas & Diesel Ltd. (CH), SeaNRG (NL), Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems GmbH (DE), OWI Oel-Waerme-Institut GmbH (DE), Agenica Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (ES), and Varo Energy Netherlands B.V. (NL).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement no. 883753.

Photo credit: Eindhoven University of Technology
Published: 19 May, 2020

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