Op:Ed: The One Constant in the Transition to New Shipping Fuels

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John Bergman, CEO of Aura Marine: “We understand that ship owners want to invest in green fuels; the challenge is to find the right solution and gain confidence.”

While uncertainty over “future fuels” has led some shipowners to block orders for new builds, it is important to analyze the fuel supply infrastructure of existing ships to ensure that the transition to decarbonisation progresses with success and supports the process of building trust and driving adoption, says John Bergman, CEO of a fuel systems specialist auramarine.

There have been a myriad of opinions on the future transition of the shipping industry’s fuels and path to decarbonization; that there is no “quick fix”, that we need to take a life cycle approach to emissions and that we need to act now.

These views are of course all correct, but I was interested when I read a new perspective on the situation from Keith Dawe, head of decarbonization and energy transition at Cargill and co-chair of the Fuels and Technologies from the Getting to Zero Coalition. He recently stated: “Different fuels imply different natures of transition: ammonia will require new infrastructure on land and on ships involving a complete system transition; methanol can be implemented by repurposing existing land-based infrastructure involving ship-to-ship transition; and biofuels have limited scalability, but can fall into existing infrastructure, implying trip-to-trip transition.


For me, this reminds me of the need to have one important constant throughout this long period of change of these decades – and that is the need to have the right partners in place. Through these partnerships, ship owners and operators are able to make informed decisions and advance the transition to decarbonizing their fleets.

There will be a gradual evolution as future fuels continue to be developed, and questions about availability and cost will become clearer. Alongside this, it is necessary to analyze every aspect of the supply process and the supporting fuel supply infrastructure. Add it all up and you have the ingredients to ensure continuity of supply and security of operations in a future world of fuels.

With a holistic and fuel-agnostic approach to the future marine fuels market, shipowners and operators can be confident that they have the right bunkering and operational fuel supply infrastructure on board, both at vessel and of the fleet.

Determining the best fit of existing in-vehicle technology to efficiently and safely handle new and future fuels is important because the properties of new fuels – such as ammonia, methanol and sustainable biofuels – differ from those of traditional marine fuels.

If we take a closer look at sustainable biofuels, they are one of the most viable pathways to marine decarbonization and can have an immediate impact on reducing emissions today. However, they can be corrosive and wear down metals, so this must be taken into account when planning fuel mixtures. Therefore, it is crucial to work with a partner who can apply their expertise and knowledge to ensure that every piece of material used in a ship’s fuel supply units is suitable for these new fuels. On entering the engine, however, all fuels must meet the requirements set by the engine manufacturer.

To support the adoption of biofuels, we are working with industry leaders Wärtsilä, Fortum, Neste and others on the BioFlex project to combine our expertise that will determine the most environmentally and economically sustainable way to move the chain forward. marine energy supply and to advance the use of biofuels.

Another option that is helping to steer the decarbonization trajectory of shipping today is methanol. This marine fuel is already supported by some shipping lines, and to meet demand, we have invested in the development of one of the industry’s first methanol fuel supply units.

The unit delivers methanol from the service tank to consumers, while simultaneously regulating methanol flow, pressure and temperature. All of this, combined with filtration, ensures that it is viable and safe for engines and other methanol consumers on board. There is already a lot of interest in methanol fuel systems and we are continuing discussions with shipowners, operators, OEMs and shipyards about supply and installation.

Using our long-standing knowledge of marine fuels, we have developed a blueprint for how to bring new fuels online, while enabling the use of fuels currently available on the market. We offer a complete suite of modular fuel and auxiliary systems for new fuels, as well as full lifecycle service. As dual fuel engines require a backup fuel system, we can also supply a complete set of fuel supply units for the use of biofuel, methanol and conventional fuels, as well as maintenance and repair. continued integrity of all equipment through our lifecycle services. offer.

We understand that shipowners want to invest in green fuels; the challenge is to find the right solution and gain confidence. Our attention to detail and 40 years of expertise that we bring to partnerships builds confidence in vessel owners and the wider industry, which will help drive the widespread adoption of new fuels.

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