Maersk partners up to develop lignin and ethanol fuel blend

Maersk partners up to develop lignin and ethanol fuel blend

Maersk has begun working with Wallenius Wilhelmsen, BMW Group, H&M Group, Levi Strauss & Co. and Marks & Spencer to explore LEO fuel – a blend of lignin and ethanol – that could be part of the future solution for sustainable shipping.

With shipping accounting for 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, a proportion that is set to increase as global trade continues to grow at a sluggish but steady pace, the shipping line noted the urgency required in reducing shipping’s environmental impact.

Maersk and Wallenius Wilhelmsen have teamed up with Copenhagen University and the above customers to form the LEO Coalition, which will explore the environmental and commercial viability of LEO fuel for shipping.

Søren Toft, Maersk chief operating officer stated: “Shipping requires bespoke low-carbon fuel solutions which can make the leap from the laboratory to the global shipping fleet. Initiatives such as the LEO Coalition are an important catalyst in this process.”

Lignin, which is a structural bio-polymer which contributes to the rigidity of plants, is often incinerated to produce steam and electricity.

It is isolated in large quantities as a by-product of lignocellulosic ethanol and pulp and paper mills.

Craig Jasienski, CEO of Wallenius Wilhelmsen, said: “Our customers’ ambitions on sustainability are increasing rapidly, and we applaud this development.

“Clearly, LEO would be a great step forward for supply chain sustainability, and it has the potential to be a viable solution for today’s fleet, and not just a future vision.”

Many companies are increasingly exploring solutions to reduce emissions in their value chains, which includes factoring in the transportation and logistics sector which delivers their goods, pointed out the Danish carrier.

Helena Helmersson, chief operating officer at H&M Group, said: “Climate change is an ongoing reality and a key challenge to all industries, including fashion.

“We are aware of our responsibility to stay within the planetary boundaries and are committed to reduce our impact in every aspect of our value chain, including how our products are shipped to consumers around the world. This coalition gives us the opportunity to explore the development of a low-carbon fuel for shipping today.”

Copenhagen University is currently running the laboratory-scale development of LEO marine fuel with the project aiming to move into phase II – testing the fuel on actual vessel engines – in the second quarter of 2020.

Following a successful phase II, phase III will begin – the scaling up of LEO fuel production.