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Whitepaper: Renewable diesel blends are the ‘immediate solution’ worldwide for maritime sector

31 May 2022

The following is an extract and a continuation of yesterday’s coverage on 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.

Biodiesel blends with VLSFO

Many large companies are using pure HVO as a main fuel for their ships in lieu of VLSFO/HVO blends without all the needed research on the possible damage of expensive equipment. While pure HVO is definitely a possible solution for the future, I do not believe it’s the best alternative at this time. A better and safer starting point could be a blend of VLSFO with different percentages of HVO. When HVO is blended with other fossil-based blend components to make VLSFO is important that all the ISO:8217-2017 specs are met. It is also important that the order of blend is respected to avoid the final product to be incompatible and unstable.

We know that blending is the arithmetic of properties and prices.  Currently the price of the VSLFO is around $865/ton (Ship&Bunker April 2022), and the price of HVO is around $2000/ton (Argus averaged price April 2022). The HVO price is highly dependent on the feedstock used for its production.

Following we can see a price chart comparing the price of the final blend (VLSFO+HVO) for different mass percentages of HVO:

Whitepaper: Renewable diesel blends are the ‘immediate solution’ worldwide for maritime sector

From the above figure, we can deduct that if high amounts of HVO are used, the final blend price would be higher than using pure VLSFO. Of course, blends with HVO will be healthier, but not very economical. Other aspect to keep in mind is the stability of the blend. Blending HVO (High paraffinic content) in high quantities can decrease the aromaticity of the final blend, producing sludge; it’s absolutely important to analyze the HVO properties with reputable COA (certificate of analysis) before purchasing it. It is also mandatory that pre-blends are checked in the lab or through models to avoid surprises in the middle of the ocean. For those reasons when we make a blend, prices and properties must be counted simultaneously.

We see HVO today as a drop-in fuel choice to be blended on top of a VLSFO with an aromaticity equal or greater than 50 vol% to avoid instability. 

We would advise companies to use HVO in combination with residues such as VTB and ATB in a percentage between 10-40 wt%, in combination with a good dose of LCO and or slurry to maintain the aromaticity and avoid instability.

Possible blends with 10 or 20 wt% of HVO are shown on the following tables:

Whitepaper: Renewable diesel blends are the ‘immediate solution’ worldwide for maritime sector

As the biofuel markets grows and there are unclear regulations controlling it, we hope that ISO8217-2017 gets some modifications taking into account renewable biofuels in a better way.

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


Photo credit: Blend Tiger LLC
Published: 31 May, 2022

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