Source: CMA CGM

Int'l - Three pathways to decarbonization of shipping

There are three potential fuel pathways toward developing zero-emission vessels and decarbonizing the future of shipping, according to ABS.

The US-based classification society just released the 2020 Setting the Course to Low-Carbon Shipping — Pathways to Sustainable Shipping outlook, which maps out the path toward decarbonization goals of the global fleet.

The three fuel pathways are: (i) light gas, (ii) heavy gas-alcohol, and (iii) biofuel or synthetic fuels.

ABS says that owners and operators should choose their pathway based on two foundational criteria: the type of vessel and its operating profile in terms of trading route and cargo.

The study was carried out in cooperation with Maritime Strategies International (MSI) to create a global scenario for the future CO2 emissions from shipping,  and the outlook’s approach was supported by Maersk.

“Maritime’s decarbonization challenge can be regarded as a complex riddle with three elements: vessel energy-efficient technologies, operational optimization and low and zero-carbon or carbon-neutral fuels. All elements have a role to play, but we have identified that the rate of shipping’s transition to lower carbon fuels will have the single biggest impact on its global carbon footprint; more than any predictable shifts in commodity demand, enhancements to operating practices, vessel routings, or ship designs.,” said Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.

“The models in our research suggest our industry will meet the targets for the reduction in carbon intensity by 2050, but it might miss the target for the total GHG emitted annually.

Zero emission vessel design
Source: ABS

The Light Gas Pathway

This category includes fuels comprised of small molecules with low-carbon/hydrogen (C/H) ratio, which helps to reduce carbon emissions.

Such fuels include LNG, bio-LNG, and synthetic natural gas (SNG) or renewable natural gas (RNG), which can be produced from biomass and/or by using renewable energy. The production of synthetic or renewable fuels from biomass is currently limited in scale and will have to be increased before they can be considered as viable commercial solutions.

LNG is a relatively mature low-carbon fuel, comprised primarily of methane. Its C/H ratio offers a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions of up to 21 percent compared to baseline heavy fuel oils, the outlook reads.

The value does not include carbon release from methane slip, which may be an issue in two-stroke or four-stroke engines that operate on LNG in the Otto cycle.

Minimizing methane slip has been described as critical to the commercial adoption of these renewable fuels.

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