Heading towards a biofuelled future

by | 15th June 2021 | Commercial Shipping, The Naval Architect - News

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BioFuelled Future

Established in 2015, Netherlands-based company GoodFuels have since been championing sustainably sourced biofuels for maritime use. In its latest endeavour to put the alternative fuel on the world map, GoodFuels has completed a joint project with German shipping company Oldendorff, global resources business BHP and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) for the first marine biofuel trial involving an oceangoing vessel in Singapore.


The maritime industry has very limited incentives to decarbonise, and the current targets set out for decarbonisation are still preliminary and distant, Isabel Welten, chief commercial officer at GoodFuels, tells The Naval Architect: “That’s why we think that partnerships such as the one between GoodFuels, BHP, Oldendorff and the MPA are very important for the sector, because they show that it is possible to make an impact on those broader societal goals today.”


Supported by MPA, the project saw one of Oldendorff’s modern Kamsarmaxes, the 81,290dwt, 2020-built dry bulk carrier Kira Oldendorff, refuelled in Singapore with a drop-in advanced biofuel blended with conventional fossil fuels.


Although in this instance a bulk carrier was chosen for the bunkering trial, Welten highlights the product’s versatility: “As biofuel is ‘drop in’ and can be used in a blend with conventional fossil-based marine fuels, it can work with any vessel type; and these characteristics are becoming increasingly recognised in the maritime industry’s owner/operator community.”


She adds that the company does encourage its customers to use its 100% biofuel product but, despite most customers’ preference for pure biofuel, some do ultimately opt for a blend.


GoodFuels’ advanced biofuel, as used in the blend onboard Kira Oldendorff, is sustainably sourced, verified and approved by an independent sustainability board. Using sustainable waste and residue streams as feedstock for a fuel capable of 80-90% well-to-exhaust CO2 emissions compared with HFO/VLSFO and which virtually eliminates SOx emissions:


“They’re produced from certified feedstocks labelled as 100% waste or residue and have no (in)direct land-use issues and no competition with food production or deforestation. We select certified feedstocks, such as used cooking oil, crude tall oil, sewage sludge or tallow,” Welten confirms.


For the trial, Oldendorff installed monitoring instruments onboard the bulk carrier to capture trial data from using the drop-in biofuel, which Welten comments requires no changes to a marine engine: “One of the most favourable and commercially attractive elements of our biofuels is their drop-in characteristics, meaning that no technical or hardware changes are required to burn our fuel. Moreover, we can continue to use existing bunker infrastructure. This considerably lowers the barrier to entry to using the fuel on existing and newbuild ships,” she explains.


Singapore has been in GoodFuels’ sights for a while, Welten tells TNA, adding that a first trial for bunkering at the hub was planned in 2017/2018 but did not go ahead as the industry and local supply chain was unready at the time.


As such, this joint project is particularly significant: “It has taken us substantial effort to enable the bunkering of our marine biofuel to be carried out in Singapore, as all the technical, operational and commercial aspects needed to be right. We’re immensely proud to have been part of this incredible milestone for shipping – bringing an immediate decarbonisation solution to shipping’s most important global hub – as we believe passionately in the industry’s decarbonisation vision.”


The joint project aimed to understand the behaviour of the fuel, assess engine and vessel operational performance during the trial, and explore the technical/commercial merits and challenges of biofuels as a marine fuel.


While the exact results of the trial are undisclosed, Welten is confident that the project will help inform future decisions on the supply and use of biofuel: “All the learnings and findings from the trial are being used to complete strategic analyses and recommendations on the owner, charterer and GoodFuels’ side, at which point the next steps will be clearer. The technical results are also being carefully analysed before further plans commence, which may include more trials.”


Although the bulk carrier project is a breakthrough for the company, GoodFuels plans to expand the scope of biofuel beyond any one segment.


“For GoodFuels, our mission has always been to accelerate the energy transition by using truly sustainable solutions. We are advancing the use of second-generation, sustainable marine biofuels across all maritime transportation,” Welten comments

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