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Interview: Headway Technology Group charts maritime decarbonisation ambition with portfolio expansion

Headway will launch a new fuel supply system suitable for alternative bunker fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia; to focus on procurement and construction of carbon capture systems in 2023 following R&D.




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In an exclusive interview with Singapore-based bunkering publication Manifold Times, China-based maritime technology firm Headway Technology Group (Qingdao) Co., Ltd. recently shared its maritime green technology achievements for 2022, the development of a new fuel supply system for alternative bunker fuels and its forecast for maritime decarbonisation:

MT: What company milestones related to maritime decarbonisation have Headway achieved in 2022 and why are these developments significant to the company?

Green shipping has been embedded in Headway’s vision and development strategy, so Headway spares no effort to help the industry accelerate its journey toward decarbonisation and has made great progress in 2022. In 2022, OceanGuard® Methanol Fuel Supply System(LFSS), developed independently by Headway, obtained the AiP certificate from RINA. In addition, Headway has established the Clean Energy Experiment Center which will focus on the R&D of clean energy technology, commercial application of R&D achievements, testing products and training etc. In the future, with the upcoming great process in the R&D of new low- and zero-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia, Headway will launch a new fuel supply system suitable for green bunker fuels to meet the demands of the shipping industry.

Besides alternative bunker fuels, Headway also threw itself into the R&D of the traditional methods for decarbonisation over the last two years. Ship-based carbon capture technology is one of them. In 2022, OceanGuard® Carbon Capture, Storage & Utilisation (CCSU) has achieved great progress in R&D and made a big splash in its debut at SMM 2022. Many visitors paid attention because of its outstanding advantages, such as reliability, cost-effectiveness, high efficiency and so on. One point should be noted that OceanGuard® CCSU leverages the latest technology so that is only one-tenth of the size of a traditional CCSU unit while ensuring system stability. 

MT: What is the business direction and company forecast for Headway Technologies in 2023? How have earlier developments in 2022 led to its current plan for 2023?

Under the target of IMO decarbonisation, the related environmental regulations will continue to drive fleet renewal decisions by vessel owners in 2023, with methanol, ammonia and carbon capture technology among the solutions they include in their investments.

The year 2023 will bring much-anticipated methanol dual-fuel vessel orders and the global methanol-fuelled fleet will grow with a huge jump over the next two years. Headway will grab the opportunity to engage clients and provide one-stop service on the basis of Headway’s advantage in this field.

In 2023, decarbonisation would come to a standstill without rapid developments in two- and four-stroke engine technology and the industry is pouring resources to underpin the R&D of engine-fueled clean energy. Therefore, Headway will invest more capital and resources to accelerate the R&D process of ammonia-fuelled supply systems to achieve more in this field.

Currently, many participants who engage in onboard carbon capture are busy with conceptual design and front-end engineering design study of the carbon capture system. This study is ongoing and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023. This is the first phase and Headway has finished it before SMM 2022. In 2023, Headway will devote itself to procurement and construction of the system, including onboard experiment and commissioning.

MT: What are the differences between FGSS and EGCS manufactured by Headway as compared to other shipyards? If I am a shipowner, why will I choose products manufactured by Headway?

OceanGuard® FGSS is dependently developed by Headway and has obtained the AiP certificate from major classification societies such as DNV, BV ,RS, RINA, NK, etc. It is worth noting that the system is also the first one in the industry to obtain the SIL Functional Safety Certificate. Headway can also provide tailor-made solutions and services from initial design to commission according to the demands of clients. 

As an example, Headway utilised its experience in retrofitting a Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) to enhance installation efficiency by performing a 3D scan and design in advance during our last retrofit delivery. According to the feedback from customers, about 15% to 20% of fuel cost will be saved from the deferential price between fuel oil and LNG.

OceanGuard® EGCS is also independently developed by Headway with a comprehensive energy-saving and user-friendly system that can be customised. From the feedback of Headway’s clients, three main points play a significant role when shipowners make their decision. 

  • Safety. OceanGuard® EGCS adopts ultra-micro atomisation technology, which overcomes the conventional disadvantages of scrubbers, such as high back pressure of the main engine, inconvenient replacement of packing, and cracks inside the tower body. This minimises scale accumulation for a long time due to the high-temperature evaporation of seawater. Scale accumulation aggravates the back pressure of the main engine and causes a series of main engine combustion problems.
  • Saving cost. OceanGuard® EGCS can adjust the power of the seawater pump in real time according to the real-time working conditions of the main engine, to achieve the maximum energy-saving effect and save every penny for the shipowner.
  • High-quality. OceanGuard® EGCS uses top European parts and spares to ensure a high quality system.

MT: What is Headway’s forecast for maritime decarbonisation? What are maritime decarbonisation’s greatest challenges and its possible solutions?

Concluding with one word from what we know from the customer surveys, the greatest challenge lies in “uncertainty”. Agreeing with the shipping community, Headway believes we should start to take the first step instead of waiting for the one perfect solution.

Headway holds the opinion that decarbonisation can be achieved by multiple approaches, which include the solutions we are providing to the industry and several other approaches such as:

  • Digitalisation: Digital solutions especially with route optimisation can greatly increase energy efficiency and the technology will great benefit those vessels not ready to invest big money in decarbonisation;
  • EPL & ShaPoLi: It’s already a common agreement that EPL or Shaft Power Limit can be the easiest way to meet EEXI requirements. The solution has many limitations, but every kilogram counts on the pathway to decarbonisation.
  • Drop-in Fuels: For those vessels not ready for applying alternative bunker fuels, drop-in fuels are always a great starter towards decarbonisation;
  • Anti-Biofouling: As mentioned by GloFouling Partnerships, a layer of slime as thin as 0.5mm covering 50% of the hull surface will lead to a 25% increase in GHG emissions;
  • Optimized Naval Structures: This includes many approaches including the wind deflector such as ONE Trust equipped recently;
  • Air-Lubrication: Air lubrication is a proven effective approach to reducing GHG emissions with minor retrofitting on the vessel;
  • Hydrogen/Ammonia Fuel: H2 (LH2) and NH3 are the final solutions to decarbonisation. They might take a longer time to come. Headway will proudly be there with all our customers when the time comes.
  • Onboard Production of Hydrogen: The technology can greatly use the onboard Methane/Methanol infrastructure to provide blue hydrogen for vessels.

MT: Which technologies are easiest for vessels to implement in order to meet IMO 2030 standards and why?

In line with the ambition of the IMO GHG Strategy, the path toward decarbonisation will include a series of different solutions as various technologies have their characteristics that greatly influence shipowners’ decisions. Till now, the available solutions give two paths. The first path is combining alternative fuels with carbon capture technology. Alternative marine fuel with lower carbon content — including LNG/LPG and methanol— serves as a promising solution to preventing pollution from the source. The related technologies of the LNG/methanol fuel supply system have been well-developed and now LNG/methanol-fueled vessels have made their way to sea. However, LNG and methanol only can cut 15% emission of carbon dioxide after combustion. To meet the IMO 2030 target, carbon capture technology should be considered to avoid releasing carbon into the atmosphere. 

The first path is innovative and needs shipowners to do a lot of retrofitting to meet the requirements of vessels being fuelled with LNG and methanol, such as installing alternative fuel tanks, equipping them with LNG/methanol-fueled engines and so on. Therefore, path one is more suitable for new-building vessels but it imposes more restrictions and difficulties for existing vessels in installing alternative bunker fuel supply systems. The second path is needed to help shipowners meet the 2030 target with less retrofitting and less cost, which means installing scrubbers and a carbon capture system. With this, there is no need to retrofit the engine and fuel system as shipowners still can combust fossil fuel. 

To ensure an approach that is tailored to meet shipowners’ needs, Headway remains committed to providing high-performance solutions, technical support and consultancy according to size and type of ship, route it sails, onboard space and engine type. For path one, OceanGuard® FGSS and LFSS can meet shipowners’ need for alternative bunker fuel supply systems and OceanGuard® CCSU can capture carbon from the combustion of LNG and methanol. For path two, OceanGuard® EGCS is capable of absorbing SOx from the combustion of fossil oil. In the future, Headway will play more roles in helping the marine industry sail towards net zero.

MT: What initiatives have China introduced to help vessels meet IMO 2030 emissions standards and what is the timeline for them?

According to the CCS report, Outlook of Shipping Low Carbon Development, China has been taking decarbonisation as a major task during development via an initiative made back on 14 October 2021. This development focuses on reaching the CO2 Emissions Peak before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060 (aka 3060) as targeted in September 2020. In order to accord with the timeline, China is empowering the transport sector to a “Low-carbon” path: By 2030, 40% of the new-built transportation should be powered by clean energy, and the carbon intensity of transportation should drop by 9.5% compared to the level of 2020. Also, facilities providing LNG, methanol, and hydrogen are under schematisation.


Photo credit: Headway Technology Group
Published: 21 February, 2023

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GCMD concludes its final biofuel blend supply chain trial with Hapag-Lloyd

bp provided the B30 biofuel blend to the “TIHAMA”, a 19,870 TEU container vessel operated by Hapag-Lloyd in final trial; marks the end of a series of trials initiated in July 2022.





GCMD concludes its final biofuel blend supply chain trial with Hapag-Lloyd

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) on Thursday (18 July) said it has successfully completed its final supply chain trial for biofuel blended with very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). 

This marks the end of a series of trials initiated in July 2022 as part of a larger pilot to develop a framework to provide quality, quantity and GHG abatement assurances for drop-in fuels.

In this final trial, bp provided the B30 biofuel blend to the TIHAMA, a 19,870 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container vessel operated by Hapag-Lloyd.

The biofuel component used is certified to the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) standard – a multistakeholder certification scheme for biobased materials. The biofuel component comprised neat Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) produced from food waste.

Authentix, a tracer solutions provider, supplied and dosed the FAME with an organic-based tracer at the storage terminal outside the Netherlands. The dosed FAME was then transported to the Port of Rotterdam for blending with VLSFO to achieve a B30 blend, before the blend was bunkered onboard the TIHAMA.

Similar to previous trials, GCMD engaged fuel testing company Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) to witness the operations at all stages – from biofuel cargo transfer to bunkering. VPS also collected and conducted extensive laboratory tests on samples of the biofuel and biofuel blend collected at pre-determined points along the supply chain to assess quality per Standards EN 14214 and ISO 8217.

With well-to-wake emissions of 13.74 gCO2e/MJ, the neat FAME presented a 85.4% emissions reduction compared to the emissions of the fossil marine fuel. The reduced emissions complies with the MEPC 80, which requires a minimum emissions reduction of 65% in order for biofuels to be classified as sustainable.

GCMD and Hapag-Lloyd determined that consumption of the 4,500 MT B30 blend of FAME and VLSFO resulted in 27.9% emissions reduction compared to sailing on VLSFO.

A newly developed tracer deployed with this supply chain

GCMD collaborated with Authentix to develop and deploy a new organic-based tracer to authenticate the origin and verify the amount of FAME present in the blend. The proprietary tracer blended homogeneously with FAME and was detected at expected concentrations at all sampling points along the supply chain.

This trial marks the first deployment of this tracer in a marine fuel supply chain. Previously, similar tracers were used to authenticate and quantify biofuels in road transport and LPG supply chains.

Development of a comprehensive biofuels assurance framework underway

With the completion of this trial, GCMD has deployed a diverse range of tracer technologies, including synthetic DNA and element-based tracers, in addition to the organic-based tracer used in this trial. The trials have also included the development of a chemical fingerprinting methodology and the evaluation of lock-and-seal and automatic identification systems (AIS) as additional solutions to ensure the integrity of the biofuels supply chain.

Learnings on tracer limitations and benefits will be incorporated into a framework that recommends appropriate use to ensure consistent and robust performance. This effort will complement existing ISCC by providing additional supply chain assurance through physical traceability.

The insights from these trials will be shared in a series of reports covering issues, such as traceability, biofuel degradation, supply chain optimisation and abatement costs. These findings will culminate in a comprehensive assurance framework to provide guidance on biofuels use, slated for release in the fourth quarter of 2024.


Photo credit: Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation
Published: 19 July 2024

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MPA, ITOCHU and partners sign MoU on ammonia-fuelled bulk carriers study

As a government agency, MPA,will review and provide their views to the designs of the ammonia-fuelled ships to ensure their safe operations, says ClassNK.





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Classification society ClassNK on Thursday (18 July) said it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ITOCHU Corporation, Nihon Shipyard Co., Ltd., and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) regarding a joint study for the design and safety specifications of ammonia-fuelled ships which are under development by ITOCHU and partners.

“The discussion for a specification of ammonia-fuelled ships with a governmental body related to their operation is essential for a social implementation of ammonia-fuelled ships,” ClassNK said. 

“As one of parties of the MoU, MPA, a government agency overseeing the world’s busiest bunkering hub, will review and provide their views to the designs of the ammonia-fuelled ships to ensure their safe operations.”

The MoU is based on the premise that 200,000 deadweight ton class bulk carriers will be built by Nihon Shipyard with an ammonia dual-fuelled engine.

“The necessary clarifications of the specification for the ammonia-fueled ship to carry out ammonia bunkering in Singapore will be conducted among parties of this MoU, for the commercialisation of ammonia-fuelled ships,” ClassNK added.


Photo credit: Venti Views on Unsplash
Published: 19 July 2024

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Methanol Institute: Methanol fuel innovations and expansions (Week 28, 8 to 14 July 2024)

This week, advancements in methanol as a marine fuel included new additives reducing the need for pilot fuel, new eco-friendly tankers, and methanol-powered feeder ships in Rotterdam.





Methanol Institute logo

The Methanol Institute, provides an exclusive weekly commentary on developments related to the adoption of methanol as a bunker fuel, including significant related events recorded during the week, for the readers of bunkering publication Manifold Times:

Technology around the use of methanol as a marine fuel has continued to move forward, with the latest developments including an additive which removes the need for pilot fuel, further saving carbon emissions. Elsewhere, bunker networks, fuel transport and cargo capacity using cleaner methanol has continued to expand.

Methanol marine fuel related developments for Week 28 of 2024:

Terntank orders Fifth Eco-Friendly Tanker with Methanol and Wind Propulsion

Date: July 8, 2024

Key Points:

Terntank has placed an order for a fifth vessel featuring wind-assisted propulsion and methanol fuel capabilities from China Merchants Jinling Shipyard. Scheduled for delivery between March 2025 and July 2027, the 15,000 DWT chemical and product tanker aims to enhance environmental performance. The company emphasized the benefits of these technologies, including reduced emissions and expanded shore power usage, reinforcing its commitment to sustainable shipping practices.

Fratelli Cosulich Orders Two New Bunker Vessels with Methanol and Biofuel Capabilities

Date: July 8, 2024

Key Points:

Fratelli Cosulich has ordered two 7,999 DWT bunker delivery vessels from Taizhou Maple Leaf Shipbuilding, capable of handling methanol, biofuel, and fuel oil. The first ship is expected in early 2026. This move reflects the company's commitment to sustainability and technological innovation. Methanol, known for its ability to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is a focal point of this initiative, supporting the transition to cleaner marine fuels.

X-Press Feeders Launches Methanol-Powered Feeder Ships in Rotterdam

Date: July 10, 2024

Key Points:

X-Press Feeders has introduced its first methanol-fueled ship, Eco-Maestro, in Rotterdam, launching Europe's first scheduled feeder network powered by green methanol. The network, comprising 14 ships, will operate routes in Northern Europe with methanol bunkering exclusively in Rotterdam. This initiative aims to support sustainable shipping and help companies achieve environmental goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

WinGD Completes Successful Tests on New Short-Stroke Methanol-Compatible Engine

Date: July 11, 2024

Key Points:

WinGD has successfully completed testing of its new X52-S2.0 short-stroke engine at the Yuchai Marine Power Co facility. This engine, now type-approved, is available in diesel, LNG, and methanol configurations, with an ammonia option in development. It features a compact design and high fuel efficiency, making it suitable for smaller vessels. The engine's methanol compatibility underscores its role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advancing sustainable maritime practices.

Infineum Explores Methanol Fuels for Heavy-Duty and Marine Engines with Innovative Additives

Date: July 11, 2024

Key Points: 

Paul Cooper and Joanna Hughes of Gane Energy spoke to Infineum Insight to discuss the advantages of methanol as fuel for heavy-duty and marine engines and how fuel additives can help to overcome some of the challenges.

One of the issues associated with methanol – in common with many alternative fuels  in marine applications – has been the need to use a pilot fuel to ignite it in the engine. Gane Energy has developed performance additives to methanol fuel, overcoming challenges like lubricity and corrosion. Their approach also eliminates the need for a diesel pilot fuel by converting methanol to dimethyl ether (DME) for ignition.

As the use of methanol grows in various transportation applications, the use of high quality fuel additives will be vital to ensure hardware protection, according to Infineum.


Photo credit: Methanol Institute
Published: 19 July, 2024

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