Norden trials low-sulphur biofuel

Sarah Carter
Sarah Carter

03 December 2018

Danish tramp operator Norden together with Dutch biofuel specialist GoodFuels Marine have jointly reported successful trials of a low sulphur sustainable biofuel.

The test voyage was conducted in September on a ballast trip from Rotterdam to Tallinn on the 37,000dwt, Handysize product tanker Nord Highlander. To compare how the engine reacted on the biofuel as an alternative to low sulphur fossil fuel, the departure from Antwerp was conducted on fossil fuel. After a visual inspection of the engine, the vessels switched to biofuel. During the voyage the engine was operated at different loads for sufficiently long periods to establish stable performance. After the test, a final visual inspection of the engine was conducted, which confirmed that the engine was not negatively affected by the biofuel.

The trials were the culmination of three years extensive research and development with partners including Royal Dutch Boskalis and engine manufacturer Wärtsilä. GoodFuels claimed that its Bio-Fuel Oil (BFO) delivers near-zero carbon and SOx emissions without any requirement for engine modifications. The trials saw hundreds of tonnes of ‘drop in’ BFO taken onboard.

GoodFuels said in a press statement that the successful operation effectively means that there is the capability to future-proof fuel requirements for shipowners and operators who are seeking an alternative to both distillates and Ultra Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (ULSFO) in order to comply with 2020 0.5% sulphur cap requirements, as well as impending IMO decarbonisation reductions.

Dirk Kronemeijer, CEO, GoodFuels Marine, commented, “We want to greatly thank Norden for being a pioneer and for joining us as we take this crucial step towards developing a carbon-busting solution that is scalable, truly sustainable, technically compliant and – crucially – affordable. In our journey so far we have focused on realising the wide-scale use of bio-marine gas oil (MGO) equivalent biofuel, but for over three years we have been working day and night to develop our BFO solution. The importance of its arrival in the market is further underlined by the dual prospect of impending lower sulphur and carbon legislation. Bringing this to market now offers shipping a near-zero carbon and SOx alternative to HFO, and VLSFO – 0.5% blended fossil fuel – both of which will be prevalent in the market post-2020. From this point onwards we want to scale supply as fast as we can in order to actively contribute to the world’s 1.5 degree challenge.”

Norden and GoodFuels Marine will continue working with each other to gain more experience and scale usage of the fuel as an alternative to HFO, ensuring the realisation of the opportunity to offer commercially attractive carbon-neutral transport to meet customers’ demands.

ShipInsight questioned whether the fuel was really zero carbon since its use would involve a similar release of CO2 as conventional fuels would. Kronemeijer told us in reply, Sustainability is paramount for GoodFuels and all our fuels are certified according the strictest standards, guided by our independent sustainability board consisting of leading NGOs and academics. We would never use palm oil for instance, as this would defy the whole purpose of what we believe in.

Over the last three years, we have developed this bio-fuel oil made from used cooking oil, but we are also exploring scalable waste streams such as forest residues and aggregated urban waste. When burnt, the fuel does produce carbon dioxide. However, the emissions are offset by the fact that the fuel is made from organic material, which has absorbed a similar amount of the gas at a previous stage. This is called ‘the lifecycle principle’ of any biofuel and is therefore deemed to be ‘carbon neutral’. This is certified by independent global standards such as RSB or ISCC.”