DNV approves Vale’s multi-fuel tank design in a ‘major’ advance for low-carbon fuels adoption

Brazilian mining company Vale has received approval in principle from the classification society DNV for its design incorporating multi-fuel tanks on iron ore carriers, developed as a result of the project seeking to adopt alternative, lower-carbon fuels for shipping.

DNV performed an independent assessment of the design to verify its technical feasibility, indicating that, based on this system, vessels chartered by the mining company could be adapted to store fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), methanol and ammonia in the future.

According to Vale, the design, which was developed in partnership with Norwegian companies Brevik Engineering AS and Passer Marine, represents a major advance in the adoption of low-carbon fuels in the shipping industry.

The multi-fuel tank design is part of the Ecoshipping program, developed by Vale to adopt new technologies and renew its fleet with the aim of reducing carbon emissions from shipping.

A preliminary study for ships of the Guaibamax category estimates that emissions reductions can range from 40% to 80% when powered by methanol and ammonia, or up to 23% in the case of LNG, Vale explained.

Following the approval for the multi-fuel tank design, the company plans to develop a pilot project in the coming months for the implementation of this system on a Guaibamax.

“The multi-fuel tank system removes some of the main barriers to the adoption of alternative fuels, which include regulatory and infrastructure uncertainty in defining the optimal fuel”, said Vale’s Shipping Technical Manager, Rodrigo Bermelho.

“It is a solution for the future, but one that could also impact existing ships, many of which have more than 20 years of service life ahead of them. Allied to other energy efficiency technologies in progress at Vale, such as rotating sails and air lubrication, it allows us to have more efficient vessels with very low carbon emissions.”

Investing in energy-efficient technologies

In addition to adopting alternative fuels, the Brazilian company is actively investing in the energy-efficient technologies.

Last year, Vale presented the first ore carrier equipped with rotating sails and the first Guaibamax ship with air lubrication installed as part of its Ecoshipping program.

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Additionally, investments of up to $6 billion since 2020 to reduce Vale’s scopes 1 and 2 emissions by 33% by 2030 were also announced. The company has also committed to a 15% reduction in scope 3 emissions by 2035, related to the value chain, of which shipping emissions are part, since the ships are not owned by the company. The targets are aligned with the ambition of the Paris Agreement.

Moreover, Vale has invested to incorporate efficiency and environmental innovation in the shipping area. Since 2018, the company has been operating second-generation Valemaxes and, since 2019, Guaibamaxes, with capacities of 400,000 tons and 325,000 tons, respectively.

These vessels are said to be among the most efficient in the world as they can reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by up to 41% compared to a Capesize ship, of 180,000 tons, built in 2011.

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