The Navy is seriously busy on the biofuels front. Within weeks of its biggest biofuel test ever – and just days after announcing it would purchase 450,000 gallons of biofuels to use in key military exercises next summer – comes word that the service is working with Maersk in testing algae-based biofuel on a container ship en route from Northern Europe to India.
Maersk was a good fit for extensive testing of the biofuel, the company said, because the Maersk Kalmar “has a dedicated auxiliary test engine, which reduces the risks of testing, and its fuels system has a special biofuel blending equipment and separate tanks.” The company said that on its 6,500-mile voyage from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Pipavav, India, the Kalmar will burn some 30 tons of biofuel.
Maersk didn’t say where the biofuel originated, but in the Navy’s recent large-scale demonstration off the coast of California, the hydro-processed algal oil blended 50-50 with standard petroleum fuel came from the California company Solazyme. Solazyme, too, is one of two suppliers in the 450,000-gallon biofuel purchase.
On the Kalmar, the blends are varying, Maersk said, from 7 percent biofuel to 100 percent, in order to see what works best. “The team is also analyzing emissions data on NOx (nitrogen oxides), SOx (sulphur oxides), CO2 and particulate matter from the fuel use, along with effects on power efficiency and engine wear and tear,” Maersk said.
“We expect to identify an optimal blend of distillate and biofuel that will meet the more stringent requirements of the International Maritime Organization’s forthcoming emissions regulations,” said David Anderson, Maersk Line’s technical representative for the project. “The test is part of a journey to spur innovation in fuel R&D, diversify the fuel supply and improve environmental performance. It is a long-term goal Maersk shares with the Navy.”