Japanese trio tests renewable diesel-fueled ferry

Japanese shipping firm Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and its group company MOL Ferry have completed the country’s first sea trial of a large ferry using renewable diesel fuel.

The companies conducted the sea trial of the ferry Sunflower Shiretoko, owned and operated by MOL Ferry, using renewable diesel fuel marketed by compatriot biotechnology firm Euglena.

The trials took place in the Port of Oarai in Ibaraki Perfecture.

renewable diesel ferry
Source: MOL/Euglena

According to partners, the renewable diesel fuel used for the sea trial is made from biomass and can be used without changing the specifications of conventional diesel-powered marine engines.

It is said to comply with SOx regulations because, unlike the heavy fuel oil in general use today, it contains no sulfur, a major component of air pollution from internal combustion engines.

In addition, this biofuel emits CO2 at the combustion stage, but the biomass feedstock absorbs CO2 by photosynthesis in the growth process, so it is expected to achieve a carbon-neutral state—essentially net-zero CO2 emissions when it is used.

The trial is seen as a step toward achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a target set by the MOL Group “MOL Group Environmental Vision 2.1”, which laid out the group’s approach to global environmental issues.

What is more, among its initiatives, the group supports Euglena’s “Green Oil Japan” declaration, which aims to promote Japan’s nationwide shift toward biofuel, and this sea trial was a key element of that.

“MOL and Euglena are working to reduce the maritime industry’s environmental impact and realize a sustainable global society while moving ahead with environment-friendly activities”, the parties said in a joint statement.

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