Monday, July 22, 2024
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HomeEducationA ship powered by vegetable oil.... Yah right...!!!

A ship powered by vegetable oil…. Yah right…!!!

A ship powered by vegetable oil…. You think I am joking..??


An innovative Dutch company has reportedly done just that.. Read on..

bunker, bunkering, bunker surcharge - shipping and freight resource

As you maybe aware, currently all modern commercial ships run on fossil fuels such as MGO (Marine gas oil), MDO (Marine diesel oil), IFO (Intermediate fuel oil) , MFO (Marine fuel oil), HFO (Heavy fuel oil)..

These fuels, collectively known as bunker fuel, are very thick and heavy and is categorised based on the chemical composition, intended purpose and the boiling temperature..

Bunker fuels are very viscous, have long hydrocarbon chains and goes through a combination of processes involving the mixing of a range of contaminants..

These contaminants cannot be removed and therefore bunker fuels are ranked very high in the pollution level and represents a serious environmental hazard when it spills..

The quantity of bunkers are dependent on the size of the ship and speed at which it is designed to cruise..

As per reports, shipping is recognised as the most efficient form of commercial transport and ships have the smallest carbon footprint as  compared to other modes of commercial cargo transport..

However, the scale of the shipping industry is enormous.. Almost 90% of the world’s trade is done by sea with the world commercial fleet sitting at around 93,161 vessels, with a combined tonnage of 1.86 billion DWT (as of 1st Jan 2017).. This makes ocean shipping a significant contributor to the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions (around 3% of total global CO2 emissions)..

carbon emissions in shipping - shipping and freight resource

Any goods that is shipped overseas may end up using a combination of truck, rail and sea modes of transport over long distances.. So the combined carbon footprint of a shipment is quite substantial..

Therefore initiatives such as slow steaming, using Low Sulphur Fuels etc have come into play and are expected to assist in reducing fuel emissions and fuel costs which ultimately is expected to reduce shipping costs..!!!

In April 2018, more than 100 Member States met at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London and adopted an initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels..

The Goodshipping Program is the world’s first global marine program that aims to change the fuel that is used in the marine market space..

Through the use of biofuels this marine initiative has reportedly developed a flexible, quick, transparent, convenient and effective way for companies and businesses of all sizes to lower the emissions that their specific cargo is responsible for..

The GoodShipping Program empowers cargo owners and shippers to purchase low-carbon, compatible and sustainable ‘drop-in’ biofuels..

This initiative will reportedly allow the cargo owner to mitigate carbon emissions from within the industry and accelerate low-carbon fuels in the marine fuel mix rather than through an alternative mitigation scheme..

The way it will work is as below :

  1. Shippers interested in reducing pollution at sea are approached
  2. Based on the level of freight volume, the shippers can agree on the amount of biofuel needed to replace the HSFO (High Sulphur Fuel Oil) that would otherwise be burnt on a designated vessel
  3. These shippers will arrange for a switch to biofuels on vessels carrying their goods
  4. Based on volumes, a selected vessel may be refueled with these biofuels in a selected port
  5. Goodshipping will handle the entire coordination process on behalf of the interested shippers

This process is exactly what five of GoodShipping’s ocean freight customers – Tony’s Chocolonely, Dopper, Blygold, Magic Marine and Mystic followed when they took part in this first initiative by Goodshipping Program..

vegetable oil powered ship - shipping and freight
Image from :

The ‘Samskip Endeavour’ is a container vessel that carries over 800 containers and normally runs on a combination of fossil fuels like mentioned above.. GoodFuels Marine provided this ship with 22,000 litres of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) made from used cooking oil (UCO) to carry the goods belonging to these customers..

The 22,000 litres of vegetable oil corresponds to the annual marine fuel consumption that these five customers would have used for all of their shipments for a year..

In doing so, these customers have offset all of their carbon emissions from shipping for one year..

In announcing this successful first bunkering, Goodshipping Program noted that

vegetable oil powered ship - shipping and freight resource.comTogether we have avoided over 40 tons of CO2 emissions and, because our biofuels replaced Heavy Fuel Oil, we also significantly reduced other local emissions like sulphur, soot and black carbon.

“With this first bunkering, GoodShipping shows that it is possible for cargo owners to influence the carbon footprint of the sea freight in their supply chain. Thanks to the principle of mass balance, any company can join our program and have their sea freight shipped climate-neutral. Next to that, we are increasing demand and accelerating R&D in the field of marine biofuels.

Blygold’s Managing Director Maarten van der Meer, said

For a company like Blygold, where we work with freight forwarders for shipping our sea freight, it has always been difficult to minimize the impact of that part of our supply chain. GoodShipping makes this possible, with an easy and adaptable solution.

Waste vegetable oil is generally available in the form of used cooking oil which comes primarily from restaurants, homes, recycling plants or from food processing byproduct streams..

Bearing in mind the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) sulphur cap, set to enter into force in 2020 wherein ships will be banned from burning any marine fuel with a sulphur content above 0.5 pct, these types of fossil fuel alternatives may well be the future..

So don’t throw out that used cooking oil yet.. Who knows when you will get a chance to use it to fuel your own shipment..  🙂

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  1. Wow.this is a positive trend for shipping eliminating fossil fuel and switching to vegetable oils
    I guess being an Indian ,I can imagine how many tons of oil is used at a home in a year,adding to restaurant as well to it.we can contribute well to make a safer environment and of course save those marine creatures.
    Superb article.


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