Maersk Line is working with the U.S. Navy to test biofuel derived from algae on a Maersk container ship on a voyage from Northern Europe to India.
The Maersk Kalmar has two key attributes that make it a suitable vessel for biofuel testing: a dedicated auxiliary test engine that reduces the risks of testing and a fuel system that has special biofuel blending equipment and separate tanks. The ship, which has a capacity of 6,690 20-foot equivalent units, will use 30 metric tons of algae-based biofuel on a month-long, 7,480-mile voyage from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Pipavav, India.
Engineers and crew onboard are testing blends ranging from 7 percent to 100 percent. The team is also analyzing emissions data on nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and particulate matter from the fuel use, along with effects on power efficiency and engine wear and tear.
Tests are scheduled to conclude in early December, with an analysis of results to follow.
The U.S. Navy is collaborating on the biofuels test because it charters ships from Maersk Line, Ltd., which owns and operates U.S. flag vessels that it charters to the Navy. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Maersk headquarters in Copenhagen in October to learn of energy conservation initiatives across Maersk’s fleet of over 1,300 vessels.
These programs fit well with the Navy’s interests in increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. The biofuels test is the first collaboration between Maersk and the Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command.
“The shipping industry needs to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas intensity in the coming decades. In the short term, we can gain a lot by focusing on improving fuel efficiency. In the longer term, we would like to see sustainable biofuels become a commercially available, low-carbon fuel,” said Jacob Sterling, head of climate and environment at Maersk Line.