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Maersk, US Navy Team Up on Biofuels

Shipping firm Maersk and the U.S. Navy are testing algae-based biofuel on the container ship Maersk Kalmar. The ship is en route from Northern Europe to India.

The 300 meter-long (980 feet) container ship has a dedicated auxiliary test engine, which reduces the risks of testing, and its fuels system has special biofuel blending equipment. Maersk says that these two key attributes that make it a suitable vessel for biofuel testing.

During its month-long, 6,500 nautical mile voyage from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Pipavav, India, the ship will use 30 tons of biofuel. Engineers and crew onboard are testing blends ranging from 7 percent to 100 percent.

The team is also analyzing emissions data on nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, CO2 and particulate matter from the fuel use, along with effects on power efficiency and engine wear and tear. Tests are scheduled to conclude in early December with an analysis of results following soon thereafter.

In December, the Navy placed the world’s largest advanced biofuel order of 425,000 gallons with Dynamic Fuels LLC, a joint venture between Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corporation; and bioproducts company Solazyme Inc. A month prior, it sent a destroyer ship powered by Solazyme’s algae-based fuel on a 20-hour trip along the California coast.

In other biofuels news, FuelCell Energy Inc. has announced a partnership agreement with Abengoa S.A. to develop localized stationary fuel cell power plants. The companies will target markets in Europe and Latin America, and Abengoa will also work to develop a process to let the cells run on liquid biofuels.

Picture credit: Gary Faux/Wikimedia Commons

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2 thoughts on “Maersk, US Navy Team Up on Biofuels

  1. The Navy paid $430 a gallon for Solazyme algae diesel oil for its recent ship stunts and $149 a gallon for algae kerosene for its recent airplane stunts– fuels that normally cost the military less than $3 a gallon. I say “stunts” because that is what RAND said in its Jan 2011 study that said the US Military is wasting vast sums of money duplicating meaningless demonstrations that have already been done by industry for 55 different biofuel blends. The issue is not making the fuel, it’s making it economically. To see how we are doing, consider that Solazyme is receiving another $21 million in subsidies from DOE, so the real cost of the fuel is still far higher, and that Honeywell UOP was just awarded a DOE contract for $1.1M to produce a mere 100 gallons of fuel in 2012–that is $11,000 a gallon. North America is already littered with failed ethanol biofuel enterprises that never delivered and closed up as soon as the subsidies dried up. America’s fanciful mandatory ethanol policies have driven up the world-wide price of food 250% and resulted in the United States actually IMPORTING biofuel to meet federal mandates. How insane to spread starvation in other countries by enticing their farmers to fuel crop production instead of food production (e.g., Brazil), and to trade U.S dependence on cheap imported petroleum for a dependence upon expensive imported ethanol and biodiesel. Is that the kind of “green” that Maersk wants to be associated with?

  2. Cliff, to the best of my knowledge algae biofuels are not competing with area’s which could also be used for food production. I agree that food crops will not be the future for biofuels. They were the first generation of biofuels, it’s all a learning process. Look back at the industrial revolution and how we developed to where we are today. People also did not step back and kept a status zero they also invested money in research to improve. Subsidies into new forms of energy are in my opinion better than subsidies for oil companies or for farmers to grow stuff which is not needed and keeps prices low so that farmers in other countries can not compete (U.S. vs Mexican farmers). I welcome the test of Maersk.

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