K Line seeks to accumulate expertise on the use of biofuels as it wraps up 3rd biofuel trial

Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K LINE) has completed its third biofuel trial on board its ships as part of its decarbonization efforts.

Illustration; Image credit K Line

The company said that the trial involved the use of B24 marine biofuel comprising 24% fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) blended with very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO). The fuel was supplied by integrated energy company bp to the Capesize bulker Cape Tsubaki with the cooperation of the charterer, JFE Steel Corporation.

The vessel was supplied with biofuel in Singapore on 26 November 2022. In December 2022, after completing the loading of iron ore at Ponta da Madeira, the vessel started consuming the biofuel while navigating to the discharging port in Kawasaki.

In this trial, biofuel had been stored for 2 months in a tank, and it was used for the long voyage after storage without any large problems, K Line added.

As disclosed, the FAME component of the marine biofuel blend used in this trial enabled a GHG emissions reduction of about 80-90% in the well-to-wake process without changing current engine specifications.

Previous trials

K Line has already conducted the same kind of trial use of marine biofuel for a Supramax bulker for carrying hot-rolled steel coils with JFE Steel Corporation. The third trial was conducted for their raw materials shipments.

The Japanese shipping company started testing biofuel on its vessels at the end of 2021. The first trial saw its car carrier Polaris Highway bunker biofuel provided by bp at the Dutch port of Flushing in November 2021.

The trials have been crucial for the company in building-up expertise in the operation of biofuels on its ships.

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The Japanese shipowner aims to halve its CO2 emissions by 2030 compared with 2008 levels, surpassing the IMO target of a 40% improvement. By 2050, K Line wants to become a net-zero company.

In order to meet that ambitious target the company is working on the introduction of new fuels which have a low environmental impact such as ammonia and hydrogen, bio-LNG, and synthetic fuels.

Things to know about using biofuels

According to the guidance from DNV, the EEDI and EEXI consider the tank-to-wake approach therefore the usage of biofuels has no effect on either index.

As for the Carbon Intensity Index (CII), any non-standard approach in the determination methodology of tank-to-wake emissions for biofuels is subject to acceptance by the vessel’s flag administration as well as the RO handling the IMO DCS and CII verification on behalf of the flag. If the flag administration accepts the methodology, the usage of biofuels, also in form of blends with traditional petroleum fuels, can have a significant impact on the reduction of the CII value.

That being said, owners should be wary of several consequences of using biofuels, including the growth of bacteria and mould, which could clog filters and piping, DNV classification society said.

Biodiesel can also form deposits in piping and engines, compromising operational performance, and has a higher cloud point, which may lead to the clogging of filters at lower temperatures.

Some types of hoses and gaskets could degrade and interact with metallic material to form deposits, leading to a loss of integrity. Additionally, the conversion from diesel to biofuel may cause fuel filters to become clogged, and it’s essential to verify that rubber sealings, gaskets, and hoses can be used together with biofuel.