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Maersk container ship

‘World’s First’ Marine Fuel Bio-Refinery to be Built

Maersk container shipSteeper Energy, the Port of Frederikshavn and Aalborg University have partnered to build what they say is the world’s first biomass-based plant to produce sulfur-free marine fuel from wood.

The plant will be located at the Port of Frederikshavn in Denmark and could potentially serve an annual marine fuel market of at least 900,000 tons, according to port CEO Mikkel Seedorf Sørensen.

The sulfur-free fuel will help fleet operators meet environmental rules that go into effect in 2015, the partners say. Under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations, ships in some Emissions Control Areas (ECAs) must cut their fuel sulfur content from 1 percent to 0.1 percent.

The partners say the new fuel will be a drop-in fuel and the size of the plant is initially set at around 50,000 to 100,000 tons of fuel annually. To produce this, some two to three times as much wood will be sourced.

Aalborg University will research mixing in other locally sourced feedstocks.

The IMO sulfur rules will likely drive some shipping companies out of business and force others to close routes in 2015, Niels Smedegaard, chief executive of Danish shipping firm DFDS, tells Reuters.

He says replacement fuels cost about 40 percent more than traditional fuels and most of DFDS’ 50 ships are deployed in ECAs. DFDS spends around 1.8 billion Danish crowns ($320 million) on fuel annually, Smedegaard tells Reuters. The company has invested 400 million ($71 million) installing scrubbers in eight of its ships to remove sulfur from exhaust gases.

Last week Carnival announced it will spend more than $180 million to install exhaust gas cleaning technology on 32 ships, making it the first company to use this scrubber technology in restricted spaces on existing ships.

The scrubber technology combines the removal of sulfur with the substantial reduction of particulate matter and black carbon. Once the exhaust gas cleaning technology is installed and fully operational on the various Carnival subsidiary ships, they will exceed ECA standards, the company says.

Photo Credit: Cliff via Flickr



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