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US navy and shipping company test biofuels

Shipping company Maersk and the US navy are working together to test biofuels derived from algae by fuelling a container ship with the alternative fuel for a journey from the north of Europe to India.

The ship, called Maersk Kalmar, was chosen for the tests because it features an engine that has been specifically designed for auxiliary testing, meaning risk of damage on the voyage is reduced. The fuelling system also has dedicated biofuel blending equipment and separate tanks.

The journey is expected to take one month and during this time 30 tonnes of biofuels will be used. Blends that will be tested over the four weeks range from a makeup of 7% of biofuels to 100%. The research team on board will also examine the emissions released, including all nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and CO₂.

‘We expect to identify an optimal blend of distillate and biofuel that will meet the more stringent requirements of the International Maritime Organisation’s forthcoming emissions regulations,’ says 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,’ adds Anderson.

The partnership between the two groups came after the navy secretary Ray Mabus visited the Copenhagen headquarters in Denmark to learn about the Maersk fleet’s energy saving initiatives.