MOL Tetsun Maru

Japan’s coastal RoRo trials biofuel and waste cooking oil blend

MOL Coastal Shipping, a group company of Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, revealed that its 499 GT coastal RoRo vessel, the Tetsuun Maru No.1, trialed the use of biofuel.

Image credit: MOL

The biofuel used on the vessel is made by mixing waste cooking oil derived from vegetable oils and fats in Japan without chemical treatment with heavy fuel oil.

MOL said that the trial marks Japan’s first initiative to use this kind of biofuel in marine vessels.

Hanwa Co. supplied the biofuel to the vessel in the Chukyo region as part of a research program on marine applications of biofuels by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, in cooperation with Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. the cargo shipper.

The vessel operated on the biofuel mixture for about a month, plying a route between Mikawa Bay and Tokyo Bay, and reported no flammability problems or other issues.

Until now, the main raw material for biofuels has been Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME), which is produced by chemical processing of waste cooking oil and methanol.

In this project, used cooking oil was mixed with heavy oil A (mixing ratio of Bio was 24%) in almost its original form as straight vegetable oil (SVO) and used in a general-purpose ship type, a 499 GT coastal RoRo vessel.

Since the SVO undergoes no methyl esterification or hydrogenation process, it is likely to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions even more than other biofuels and can be supplied at a lower cost, according to MOL.

Biofuel is positioned as an effective clean alternative fuel that can be used without changing the specifications of the vessel’s main engines. It can be an effective means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, especially in small coastal RoRo vessels that have limited space for tanks and other equipment required for other alternative fuels.

This initiative on coastal RoRo vessels follows a sea trial for the use of liquefied biomethane fuel conducted in June on the vessel Ise Mirai in Ise Bay.