MOL Launches Initiative For Zero Emission Alternative Fuel

International Container Cargo ship

Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) has announced that it has joined the Carbon Capture & Reuse (CCR) Study Group and launched the Cross-industrial Working Group Related to Zero Emission Alternative Ship Fuels project.

The working group aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions across the international shipping Industry by using synthetic methane as an alternative to fossil fuels.

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Synthetic methane is generated by combining CO2 with renewable energy-derived hydrogen using methanation technology.

The working group will engage in study and promotion of methanation fuel with the industry and government agencies with the objectives of proposing carbon neutral measures to reduce the use of fossil fuels and contributing to the establishment of a new energy supply system by 2050.

“European countries, Japanese power and gas companies are paying increased attention to methanation fuel, a technology with the potential to realise zero emissions,” MOL said in a statement.

On January 1, 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will introduce a global cap that limits the sulphur content in marine fuels to no more than 0.5%, a move which has forced shipping lines to change their practices.

In 2018, the IMO also set the goals to reduce the total GHG emissions by 50% by 2050 and CO2 emissions by 40% per unit of transport by 2030, compared to 2008.

A spokesperson from the IMO told PTI that, “There may well be a variety of solutions to meet the goal. Ports and shore side infrastructure can be important, such as providing sustainable power for on shore power supply to ships – so they plug in to shore side power in ports, instead of burning fuel and emitting.

“Supply of alternative fuels will also be important and having the infrastructure for that.  

“The IMO GHG strategy sets the goals but leaves the way forward open so that research and development and innovation are encouraged. Certainly, it is very encouraging to see cross industry groups looking into zero emission alternative fuels and looking to trial potential solutions. 

“We need to have all States and the industry on board if we are to tackle climate change, so research into new fuel types is very important. 

“We don’t know yet if the goals will be met by a combination of different new fuel types, perhaps for different voyages or ship types, or if one new fuel will become dominant.

“It is also worth remembering that operational and design measures can help improve fuel efficiency  – whichever fuel is used.   

“Achieving the goals of the IMO GHG Strategy will require a mix of technical, operational and innovative solutions applicable to ships.

The IMO listed some of the potential measures and their potential GHG reduction: 

  • Full electric (50-90%)
  • Bio-LNG/LPG (35%)
  • Biofuel 3rd generation (90%)
  • Power and propulsion systems (5-15%)
  • Hydrogen and other synthetic fuels (80-100%)
  • Hull and superstructure design(2-20%)
  • Extensive speed reduction (75%)
  • Concept, speed and capability (2-50%)
  • Voyage optimization (1-10%)
  • Energy management (1-10%)
  • Fleet management, logistics and incentives (5-50%)

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