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Task 41


Alternative Fuels for Marine Applications


Recent domestic and international efforts to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases (GHG) on climate change and engine emissions that affect the health of many has led international regulatory bodies such as the international maritime organization (IMO) and national environmental agencies to issue new rules and regulations that drastically reduce GHG and emissions emanating from marine sources. Of particular note are impending regulations in emissions control areas (ECA) such as the North American ECA scheduled to take effect in 2012. All ships operating in the ECA would be required to use lower sulfur fuel beginning as early as 2010 when the fuel sulfur limit for ships operating in the ECA will be 10,000 ppm or 1% sulfur, and new engines would have to meet emission standards requiring the use of advanced emission control technologies, beginning in 2016.

The new rules will mandate reductions in emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM). Many ship operators, with current propulsion plants and marine fuels cannot meet these new regulations without installing expensive exhaust aftertreatment or switching to low-sulphur diesel or alternative fuels with properties that naturally reduce engine emissions below mandated limits, all of which impact the bottom line profits. The impact of these new national and international regulations on the shipping industries worldwide has brought alternative fuels to the forefront as a means for compliance.

Purpose and Objectives

The overall objective of the Task is to compile an extensive volume of information relative to the implementation of various alternative fuels (AF) within the European maritime sectors and recommend the most fiscally sound policy in order to achieve the goals of environmental compliance, seamless integration of alternative fuels within existing infrastructures, unfettered maritime trade practices, and fewest impediments to ship owners and operators.


  • Task 1 (Literature survey)
    Assess the implementation of future fuels (alternative and conventional) and survey the energy requirements for the marine transportation sector, including alternative fuels penetration into global marine markets with particular emphasis on the European markets. This assessment and survey will be conducted in concert with a thorough review of the current and proposed rules and regulations governing the use of current and alternative marine fuels.
  • Task 2 (AF Propulsion System Evaluation)
    Evaluate various engines and propulsion systems used in international shipping and how alternative fuels will impact these systems operationally, environmentally and performance wise. Options will include such alternative fuels as natural gas, biomass, biofuels, and engine exhaust aftertreatment options.
  • Task 3 (Economic Evaluation)
    Examine alternative fuel availability and supply, price projections and suitability for use onboard ship (weight, storage, and hazards) and the regulations that will impact the use of these alternative fuels in the global shipping sector. Also, assess the economic viability of new construction and modified vessels to use alternative fuels for both regional and international maritime trade.
  • Task 4 (Alternative Fuel Infrastructure)
    Evaluate the impediments associated with implementing an alternative fuel infrastructure and how they will affect the technical and logistical challenges of domestic and international shipping that have adopted alternative fuels. Also evaluate the current supply of alternative fuel engines and vessels and how ship capacity and construction would be affected by a changing alternative fuel infrastructure in regards to the availability of coastal terminals and support operations. Lastly, examine the costs in building an alternative fuel infrastructure, its minimum market requirements for acceptable economic returns and the effect natural gas would have on profitability.
  • Task 5 (Operating in Emission Control Areas (ECAs))
    Develop strategies for ship owners to use in ECAs to meet the restrictive engine exhaust and greenhouse gas emissions while operating within ECA boundaries. The strategies will include using low sulphur and alternative fuels, installing fuel efficient and emission compliant engines, integrated power plants, and the use of exhaust after treatment devices. We will provide a list outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.
  • Task 6 (Alternative Fuels Cost and Availability)
    Conduct a survey of the global alternative fueling facilities by identifying what fuels are commercially available and where, estimate costs of each alternative fuel and compile a comprehensive listing. 
Project Duration November 2011 – June 2013

Task Sharing

Canada, Denmark

Cost Sharing

Denmark, Finland, Germany
Total Budget 80,000 € ($106,256 US)
Task Manager

Dr. Ralph McGill

For further information please contact the AMF Secretary
Mrs. Dina Bacovsky
BEST - Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies GmbH