1 topic, 2 key figures, 3 startups to draw inspiration from
- Wind: Hybrid electric propulsion combined with renewable energies such as wind has the best total carbon footprint, especially for small ships. The Nantes-based start-up Neoline has the ambition to develop commercial lines operated with ships designed to use wind. Scheduled to enter service in 2024, the first Neoliner will be a 136-meter long, 24-meter wide ship capable of carrying 5,000 tonnes of cargo. The sails, combined with a reduction in commercial speed will reduce energy requirements by 90% compared to a traditional cargo ship of the same size.
- Hydrogen: Hydrogen stored onboard powers a fuel cell that produces the electricity needed for propulsion. While this technology meets the objectives of reducing CO2 emissions, it nevertheless shifts the problem to the production of hydrogen, 95% of which is currently produced from fossil fuels on land (Futura Planète). Moreover, the stability of onboard storage still raises technical reservations. The startup Boundary Layer Technologies combines the known physics of hydrofoil with patented designs to build 160-container ships that run on hydrogen. The ARGO cargo ship is powered by liquid H2 and travels at twice the speed of conventional containerships. It uses direct routes to reduce overall transit times and be competitive with air freight.
- MGO – Maritime Gas Oil: The aim is to integrate a growing proportion of fuels from agricultural production, mainly ethyl, or recycled petroleum products such as waste oils or recycled vegetable oils. However, production is costly if not subsidized (collection, reprocessing) and the impact on emissions remains low. On the other hand, in the case of fuels derived from agricultural production, the ecological cost is highly controversial. The startup Mash Makes was a finalist of the 2022 World-Changing Ideas Awards. It specializes in converting various agricultural residues into carbon-negative fuel products that meet the necessary international maritime standards.
- Ammonia: Compared to hydrogen, ammonia has a higher energy density and is more available in ports. In addition, the production cost per tonne is very low, and this solution can meet the targets set by the IMO. However, its mass production as a fuel has been ruled out until now because of its toxicity and low flammability. It is massively manufactured from fossil fuels, which also shifts the environmental problem. The most promising combustion tests for this technology are based on a combination of 70% ammonia and 30% MGO. Brooklyn-based startup Amogy is developing an ammonia power system for ships and heavy-duty road transportation. The technology uses liquid ammonia and converts it into hydrogen gas, which then runs through a fuel cell. The one-year-old company says it plans to launch a small demonstration vessel by early 2023, along with large road vehicles.
- Methanol: Methanol is a promising alternative fuel for reducing emissions and improving the environmental performance of shipping. It contains no sulfur and, because it is a clean-burning alcohol, emissions of NOx and particulate matter from combustion are low. However, the use of methanol requires certain levels of safety and engine adaptation as well as increased bunkering capacity on board.
- LNG – Liquefied natural gas – coupled with MGO: LNG can drastically reduce combustion emissions, including carbon emissions, which is its great advantage. Moreover, it requires only minor modifications to current propulsion technologies, which means that emission reduction targets can be met quickly and with limited investment. However, this technology relies soleyl on fossil resources.
2 Key Figures
3 startups to draw inspiration from
The startup is working on decarbonized merchant shipping, powered mainly by sail. The first Neoliner will be capable of carrying 5,000 tonnes of cargo. The sails, combined with a reduction in commercial speed will reduce energy requirements by 90% compared to a traditional cargo ship of the same size.
The startup is specialized in the environmentally friendly conversion of various agricultural residues into fuel products in accordance with international standards. The biofuel is compliant in a B11 blend with DMA (or MGO) directly from the pyrolysis machine. The fuel has been validated at Alfa Laval’s Marine Test and Training Center.