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Frederikshavn port to produce sulphur-free marine fuel

Denmark's Port of Frederikshavn has entered into a partnership with technology company Steeper Energy and Aalborg University in Denmark to develop a biomass-based plant to produce sustainable marine fuel.

The new plant will initially produce between 50 and 100,000 tonnes of sulphur-free renewable fuel a year for the several thousand vessels passing through the port annually.

It will use wood sourced from locations such as Russia, the Baltic countries, Sweden, Finland or Canada and brought to the port by ship, making use of the existing biomass handling infrastructure at the site.

From 1 January 2015 new regulations will require the permissible sulphur content in marine fuel to be zero in the SOx Emission Control Areas (SECA). This will see regions such as the North and Baltic Seas either install flue gas cleaning equipment on board, or switch to sulphur-free fuel.

'Based on our research plant at Aalborg University on on-going project activities of Steeper Energy to establish a pilot-scale plant in Alberta, Canada, the technical challenges and risk involved in a plant in Frederikshavn will be significantly reduced, pacing the way for a full-scale commercial plant in Denmark,' says Lasse Rosendahl, professor at Aalborg University, department of energy technology.

According to the port's CEO Mikkel Seedorf Sørensen, the port could potentially serve a marine fuel market of at least 900,000 tonnes a year. He says that approximately 90 million barrels of fuel are used daily, 11 million barrels of which are for marine and aerial transport.

The new drop-in fuel will serve some of the 100,000 vessels that travel through the strait around Skagen each year, keen to acquire sulphur-free fuel.

The facility will first be able to handle wood but in the longer term a research effort will get underway, dedicated to finding more local feedstocks such as short rotation coppice, manure and straw. This research will take place at the research plant at Aalborg University.

As Steeper Energy's CTO Steen Iversen explains: 'Although the project will be established on a single feedstock, the plant design will accommodate the results of the research al Aalborg University. However, by building a solid business case on wood, we can focus on establishing a well-functioning plant delivering a sustainable marine biofuel. Once this has been achieved, we can start thinking about extending the input range as well as considering a wider product portfolio, if this seems opportune.'