Shipping companies A.P. Moller-Maersk and Wallenius Wilhelmsen have joined forces with Copenhagen University and major clients to form the LEO Coalition which will explore the environmental and financial viability of using lignin ethanol oil (LEO) for shipping.
As explained, the industry peers, along with customers including BMW Group, H&M Group, Levi Strauss & Co. and Marks & Spencer, believe that LEO — a blend of lignin and ethanol — could be part of the future solution for sustainable shipping.
Shipping accounts for 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, a proportion that is set to increase as global trade continues to grow at a sluggish but steady pace. As such, this industry has an urgent need to reduce its environmental impact. The marine sector has very different fuel requirements than automotive or aviation.
“Shipping requires bespoke low-carbon fuel solutions which can make the leap from the laboratory to the global shipping fleet. Initiatives such as the LEO Coalition are an important catalyst in this process,” Søren Toft, Maersk Chief Operating Officer, explained.
Lignin is a structural bio-polymer which contributes to the rigidity of plants. Lignin is isolated in large quantities as a byproduct of lignocellulosic ethanol and pulp and paper mills. Currently, it is often incinerated to produce steam and electricity.
“LEO would be a great step forward for supply chain sustainability, and it has the potential to be a viable solution for today’s fleet, and not just a future vision,” Craig Jasienski, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Chief Executive Officer, commented.
The need for sustainable transport and logistics is becoming more prevalent as global companies explore emission reduction potentials along the entire value chain of their worldwide distributed goods.
Copenhagen University is currently running the laboratory-scale development of this potential marine fuel. The project aims to move into phase II – testing the fuel on actual vessel engines – in the second quarter of 2020.
Following a successful phase II, phase III will begin – the scaling up of LEO fuel production.