By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On October 6, 2022, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) announced the availability of a report entitled Update on Potential of Biofuels in Shipping, updating a previous study developed by EMSA on biofuels and examining the full range of biofuels from the perspective of current production capacity, storage and distribution infrastructure, and power-generation technologies. According to EMSA, the report also features techno-economic analyses and includes risk-based case studies to evaluate the potential of biofuels for the maritime sector. According to EMSA, among the broad spectrum of technology and fuel-solution pathways available for ship designers, builders, owners, and operators, biofuels potentially offer medium- and long-term marine fuel alternatives that can enter the market relatively quickly; they also offer the potential, if sustainability criteria are met, to reduce carbon output compared to traditional carbon-based fossil fuels. EMSA notes that although the current use of biofuels in marine-engine applications is very limited, there is significant potential for biofuels to capture a larger share of the total maritime fuel consumption and support the European Union (EU) and International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) greenhouse gas (GHG)-reduction ambitions for the maritime industry. EMSA states that “[r]ecent regulatory developments in the EU covering GHG emissions and the lifecycle aspect of fuels provide a basket of measures in line with the climate goals that could accelerate their adoption.” The “drop-in” characteristics of biofuels -- the possibility to replace conventional petroleum-refined hydrocarbons without substantial modifications to engines, fuel tanks, pumps, or supply systems -- may offer “an immediate, attractive and cost-effective solution, for the existing fleet.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office has announced that the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy Technology Collaboration Programme (TCP) will present a webinar titled “Biofuels for the Marine Sector: New Opportunities and New Challenges” on May 8, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (EDT) that will “give an overview of the maritime transportation sector, including its fuel and engine types, the fuel supply infrastructure, and the regulations on fuel specifications and [carbon dioxide (CO2)] emissions” and include discussion on the feasibility of current biofuels including their properties and supply. Participation instructions are available online.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On December 4, 2017, Bio-on, a leading Italian biotechnology company in the bioplastic sector, announced the continuation of its collaborative agreement with AkzoNobel, a member of BRAG. Following the close of a successful collaboration on the 2014 Synergistic Fouling Control Technologies-SEAFRONT project, International Paint Ltd., a business unit of AkzoNobel, and Bio-on have agreed to investigate the use of Bio-on’s biodegradable and biobased polymers in fouling control coatings developed by AkzoNobel. The coatings are designed to prevent the accumulation of marine organisms on boats, ships, tidal power plants, and other aquatic installations. According to David Williams, Research and Devolopment Director, Marine Coatings at AkzoNobel, the “collaboration is strategically attractive to AkzoNobel as it offers the potential to develop new biobased products which will strengthen our position as world leaders in high performance and sustainable coatings.”
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On September 19, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 18 projects from the Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) program will receive $22 million in funding through the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The MARINER projects aim to develop tools to address the technological challenges to growing and harvesting macroalgae efficiently and cost-effectively for use as a feedstock for biofuels and other bioproducts. Such tools would support the goal of the United States becoming a leader in the production of macroalgae to improve U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness. According to Eric Rohlfing, the ARPA-E Acting Director, “the United States has offshore resources capable of producing enough seaweed to handle as much as 10 percent of our demand for transportation fuel.”
The cross-disciplinary MARINER projects focus on transformative, systems-level improvements and engineering, including advanced research in farm design and autonomous operation, which draw on fields such as cultivation and harvesting systems, advanced components, computer modeling, aquatic monitoring, and advanced breeding and genetics tools.
The full list of the MARINER projects is available on the ARPA-E website.
On March 19, 2017, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the sixth edition of its specifications for marine fuels (ISO 8217:2017), which includes a redefined “class F” grade for biofuel blends in marine distillates. Up to seven percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), which has similar physical properties to conventional diesel, is permitted in the new “F” grades, specifically DFA, DFZ, and DFB. Additionally, the DMA specifications have been amended to permit 0.4 higher weight percent biodiesel, compared to the suggested level in the previous iteration of the standard. Substantial amendments were also made to the scope and other general requirements. The full specifications are available for purchase on the ISO website.