Biofuel for ships in sight

17.12.2012, News

In the future ships can sail on a biofuel made by the residual product lignin, which is derived from the production of bioethanol based on straw. A Danish research project plays an important role in making sure that this future is very close.

The very limited political progress we experienced at the UN Climate Conference this year, COP18 in Doha, Qatar has urged the media and general public to turn to more concrete initiatives, which can solve the climate challenges.

Recently, the evening TV news at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation looked at one of the leading global polluters - the shipping industry.

Here, scientists and companies are trying to find alternatives to bunker fuel container ships are sailing on today. Bunker fuel is not only emitting enormous amounts of greenhouse gases but also other unhealthy gasses and particles such as Sulfur dioxide.    

A possible alternative to bunker fuel is fuel made from lignin, which is derived from straw and other so called lignocellulosic biomasses.

When one use straw in a biorefinery the primary goal is to break it down to sugar and then to e.g. bioethanol. But along the way several secondary streams occur - and lignin is one of them.

Today lignin is used as a wood like fuel in powerplants, but through e.g. a biorefining process one can transform it in to liquid fuel and use it in a ship engine in stead.

A number of projects work on transforming lignin to fuel but the project mentioned in the evening news is called Biomass for the 21st century: Integrated biorefining technologies for shipping fuels and biobased chemicals or just B21st.

The project has been supported by The Advanced Technology Foundation.

Read more about the project here