NYK to study converting organic waste on vessels into fuel

Japanese shipping company NYK has invested in compatriot Sustainable Energy, a company that specializes in biomass power generation from waste collection.

Stellar Harmony,; Source: NYK

Sustainable Energy has developed an integrated subcritical-water organic-waste power-generation system (ISOP), which decomposes organic substances using subcritical-water-treating technology and ultimately produces green energy products such as biofuels.

“Through this investment, NYK will begin joint studies on converting organic waste such as garbage and sludge generated on vessels into fuel by utilizing the ISOP system,” the company said announcing the deal. 

Overview of the ISOP system; Image source: NYK

The ISOP system comprises equipment that decomposes organic substances such as flammable waste into low-molecular-weight compounds using subcritical-water-treating technology in a closed space to generate energy raw materials in the form of powdery and dry substance. The generated energy raw materials can be reused as green energy products such as bio-coal, biogas (e.g., methane and hydrogen), bio-coke, and the like. The system does not generate harmful substances such as dioxins, unlike existing incinerators.

The aim is to move toward the commercialization of this innovative technology, NYK said.

The duo plans to promote the application of the generated energy raw material as fuel for vessels as part of the global mission to decarbonize ships through research and development.

Stellar Harmony
Stellar Harmony, Source: NYK

Separately, the shipping company announced that Stellar Harmony, a dedicated wood-chip carrier, was delivered by Iwagi Zosen Co., a member of the Imabari Shipbuilding Group. The vessel will transport wood chips mainly from New Zealand, Australia, North America, and South America under a long-term contract between NYK and Marusumi Paper Co.

Stellar Harmony comes equipped with hybrid fins, energy-saving equipment installed on the rudder to improve propulsion efficiency, an energy-saving governor that saves fuel and reduces the load during main engine operation, as well as an eco-friendly main engine with specifications that improve fuel efficiency during low-load operation.

The ship will pump in seawater along its routes to collect microplastics floating in the ocean. The collected microplastics will be unloaded and analyzed by the Chiba Institute of Technology and used for research to clarify the actual distribution of microplastics in the ocean.

In March 2020, NYK signed a memorandum of understanding with the institute to use a ship to collect and analyze microplastics in oceans around the world in an effort to create a solution to marine plastic pollution.

The company has since expanded the number of vessels and achieved its goal of 100 samples at 100 locations. The analyzed data will be integrated into the “Worldwide Microplastic Map” produced by CIT.

NYK plans to increase the number of survey targets, locations, and items as part of its ESG strategy.