How will BP’s new “drop-in fuel” drastically reduce carbon emissions?

January 7, 2022

by Tom Nicolson

A new “biofuel-blended” marine fuel, that promises to drastically cut global carbon emissions, has successfully been trialled by BP and Maersk Tankers. The global experiment demonstrated that sustainable biofuels can be used as a marine ‘drop-in fuel’ which help reduce carbon emissions in shipping.

BP is a major global marine fuel and lubricants supplier worldwide with more than 300 boats at any one time in active service with global shipping accounting for around 3% for the world’s carbon emissions.

BP’s executive vice president of trading & shipping says: Carol Howle, says: “With an ambition to be a net zero company by 2050 it’s vital we help decarbonise this hard-to-abate sector”

She added: “Working with a partner like Maersk Tankers to develop new alternative fuels and low carbon solutions that will help accelerate the shipping industry’s energy transition is something we’re proud of.”

Citing the company’s ambition to be a leader in the space she said: “We want to help the world get there too.”

Christian M. Ingerslev, Maersk Tankers’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “The need to cut emissions is one of the most important challenges facing shipping right now. We are only able to rise to this challenge if we do it in partnerships and explore a multitude of solutions.

What is a “drop-in” fuel?

A drop-in fuel is a synthetic and completely interchangeable substitute for conventional petroleum-derived hydrocarbons (gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel), meaning it does not require adaptation of the engine, fuel system or the fuel distribution network. It can be used “as is” in currently available engines either in pure form and/or blended in any amount with other drop-in neat, drop-in blend, or conventional fuels.


How was the trial carried out?

Each vessel was supplied with BP Marine B30 biofuel, consisting of 30% fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO).

FAME is a renewable alternative fuel (biofuel) largely produced from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources. It has physical properties similar to conventional diesel, and is also non-toxic and biodegradable. The origination and production of the feedstocks used to produce FAME is certified for its sustainability to internationally recognised standards.

The trials saw the vessels sail from Rotterdam to West Africa. Throughout the trials, tests were carried out to assess the reliability and performance of the B30 biofuel blend in each ship’s main engine, auxiliary engine and boiler, and any impact on fuel tanks to determine the level of interchangeability with other fuel types.

No adverse effects to equipment or machinery were observed during or after the trials. No modifications to the engine or infrastructure were required, demonstrating the suitability of sustainable biofuels for use as a ‘drop in fuel’.

Maersk Tankers is developing and deploying solutions that help shipowners boost the economic and environmental performance of their vessels. Through its pools and industry-wide collaboration, the company is working in partnerships to contribute to a more sustainable future for the industry.



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