GoodFuels, partners test isotopic tracer for marine biofuels

Dutch biofuels provider GoodFuels has joined hands with global certification organisation Control Union and France’s IDS Group to test the effectiveness of an isotopic tracer for marine biofuels.


The partnership, which commenced in early 2022, has seen the companies collaborate to create the new tracer, which can be added to marine fuels as a unique ‘fingerprint’ and verification tool.

A successful pilot, conducted during a recent delivery of 500 tonnes of biofuel to the Norden-owned tanker Nord Gardenia, has proven the effectiveness of the tracer technology in real-life applications, according to the partners.

As explained, the isotopic tracer stays within the fuel throughout the entire downstream of fuel delivery. It then can be tracked and traced by inspectors to verify that a fuel product has not been diluted or tampered at any stage in the supply chain.

The company stressed that the trial has demonstrated that the tracer does not adversely impact the physical properties, quality and stability of the biofuel, and that tracing and testing activities could be performed without any impact on bunker operations.

The pilot also showed that the isotopic tracer can successfully measure for fuel dilution, when biofuels are used in a blend, for example.

The tracer can be applied at any stage in the supply chain and is based on natural elements so as not to compromise the sustainability of the biofuel product. It has been specifically designed to trace fuels at different granularity levels, making it suitable to be used within fuel products whether they are 100% biofuel or part of a blend with conventional marine fuels.

It can also be used to support carbon calculations and provide evidence for carbon pricing and tax reductions, giving shipowners and operators assurance on the amount and quality of biofuel they are deploying in their pursuit of sustainable shipping.

“Through this trial we have now proven this tracer technology, and that proof brings endless potential. The tracer technology can, for example, ensure that fuel doesn’t originate from banned countries but can also be used for many other purposes, in other liquids like oil or even champagne, and in almost any type of solid materials like meat, plants, and metal,” Johan Maris, CEO of the Royal Peterson and Control Union Group commented.

“Biofuel is a key transition fuel on Norden’s journey to zero-carbon shipping, as it can be used onboard our current vessels to make an immediate reduction on carbon emissions. We continue to bunker biofuel on a regular basis and support efforts of adding more transparency on the green fuels we bunker,” Henrik Røjel, Head of Fuel Efficiency & Decarbonisation at Norden, said.

The companies also noted that the tracer project is just the start of a wider partnership between GoodFuels, Control Union and IDS Group.

They share an ambition to increase transparency in the fuel supply chain, and the tracer is expected to help advance a shared vision of a standard label for biofuels that would be recognised worldwide as a sign of quality by the fuel market.

Biofuel has been recognized as a potential solution for decarbonizing the shipping sector. To support the industry’s wider deployment of biofuel, French classification society Bureau Veritas (BV) has issued a new ‘biofuel ready’ notation.

BV said that this notation will help the maritime industry address the main challenges related to the use of biofuels by ships, providing requirements to ensure ship safety and environmental compliance.

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To remind, GoodFuels’ biofuel was recently selected by Dutch vessel operator Samskip to power four of its containerships. According to the company, the fuel offers 90% cuts in CO2 emissions compared to conventional fuels. The containerships chosen for this trial are Endeavour, Innovator, Hofell and Skatafell.

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