Biofuels will pave the way for greener shipping – Biofuels International Magazine

While it has been a tumultuous past year with the COVID-19 pandemic, the transformation of the marine fuels market  continued at pace.
The International Maritime  Organisation’s (IMO)  decarbonisation targets of a  50% reduction in emissions  from 2008 levels by 2050,  and a minimum reduction in  carbon intensity per transport  usage of 40% by 2030,  compared with 2008 levels,  remains the main driver  behind the production and  development of ‘future fuels’.
There can be no doubt  that the next decade will  bring an increasingly diverse  marine fuel landscape,  as growing demand for  economically viable low  and zero carbon future fuels  becomes exponential.
However, the shipping industry is historically conservative to change.  With this in mind, driving a significant uptake of future fuels relies on a number of critical factors to inspire confidence in ship owners and operators, who may understandably be reluctant to transition.
Firstly, the fuels must be financially viable if they are to be realistically considered in a competitive market.
Secondly, the fuel supply infrastructure and appropriate standards needs to be in place, available in all major bunkering locations and mature enough to accelerate transition.
Biofuels 
One such existing future fuel  that has made significant  progress in the shipping  industry is biofuel.
In reality, power stations using engines similar to ships have been burning a variety  of biofuels for decades, yet  its prevalence in the maritime  industry is still relatively new. However, plateauing fuel demand, tightening environmental regulation and overseas competition has meant that biofuel  production, investment, and  uptake, is set to escalate.
Most recently, and among a host of partnerships, Uniper Energy and Neutral Fuels notably joined forces to provide biofuels at the  port of Fujairah in the  United Arab Emirates.
Similarly, reputable sources, such as the Finnish Maritime Industry, have also stated  that biofuels ‘could also  use the existing bunkering  infrastructure with minor  modifications, and, therefore,  show a strong potential to  replace part of the fuel mix’.
This tangible development,  combined with comments  from influential leaders  in the industry, such as  major biofuels company  GoodFuels, which stated  that by 2030, biofuel will be  “the biggest alternative fuel  in the world”, is evidence  that this is a segment with  monumental potential.
Auramarine views biofuels as one of the most  feasible and effective low  carbon fuel options.
Wider industry perspectives and  advancements, coupled  with 45 years of expertise,  designing and manufacturing  fuel supply systems for a  wide range of fuels, alongside  independent research, has  led it to conclude that the fuel  will play a pivotal role in the  future marine fuel market and  decarbonisation of shipping.
Collaboration  key to R&D 
To further support ship  owners and operators in  the transition, and aid the  development of future  fuels, Auramarine recently  joined the BioFlex project  – a three-year collaborative  study funded by Business  Finland, VTT Technical  Research Centre of Finland,  and enacted by participating  companies that included  Fortum, Neste and Wärtsilä.
The collaboration aims  to determine the most  ecologically and economically  sustainable way to evolve  the marine energy supply  chain and replace fossil  fuels, through comparing  different methods of  industrially producing fuel  oil from components.
The components are varied and include waste plastics or biomass and harvest residues  from forestry and agriculture.  The aim is the creation of cost-effective biofuels  for the marine market.
Working alongside research centres, fuel suppliers and engine manufactures,  Auramarine will harness its  expertise to progress the  use of biofuels as a viable  new source of energy.
For example, with biofuels being corrosive and wearing on metals, the company is applying its expertise to ensure that every element of  material used in a vessel’s  fuel supply units is analysed  and examined to ensure a  safe environment for the fuel.  It is this attention to detail and providing assurance that all bases have been  covered that will be the  foundation in enhancing  ship owner confidence and  drive widespread uptake.
This is especially important with vessels being unique in design.
Taking this into account, it is critical that ship owners and operators are able to easily access expert counsel as well as additional technologies to support  and manage the change.  Otherwise, the company is at  risk of introducing biofuels to  a vessel – and critical parts  such as fuel supply systems  – that not only have the  potential to cause significant  negative impact on the safety,  efficiency, and continuity of  their operations, but on the  reputation and integrity of  biofuel as a viable future fuel.
No stone left unturned 
Like many opinion formers  in the industry, Auramarine  views biofuels as one of the  most feasible future fuels  Fundamentally, and  to alleviate ship owner  anxiety and reticence, it is  believed that a thorough and  consultative approach is  required – one that consists  of widespread industry  collaboration, expert advice,  counsel, and on-hand support.  From global bunkering  capabilities to the safe  delivery of products from fuel  supply systems to the engine  inlet, every element of the  infrastructure and technology  required to deliver a viable  biofuels supply chain must  be nurtured if we are to fulfil  the industry’s true potential  for decarbonisation.
For more information:  This article was written by Teemu Jutila,  director of engineering and products  at Auramarine. Visit: auramarine.com 

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