Stena Bulk, OGCI to explore potential of carbon capture in shipping

Swedish tanker shipping company Stena Bulk has joined forces with the voluntary energy group Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) in a feasibility study on carbon capture onboard ships while at sea.

OGCI said the project was in part an extension to OGCI member Aramco’s work on demonstrating carbon capture onboard heavy-duty trucks. However, the project also aims to provide research on a solution that might help shipping reach its IMO 2050 emissions reduction target.

“Carbon capture will play an important role in reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions, but there’s no reason it needs to be limited to stationary applications. Expanding carbon capture to long distance marine shipping could help accelerate its use, while addressing a difficult to abate sector of the transport industry,” Michael Traver, Head of the Transport Workstream at OGCI said.

Erik Hånell, President and CEO of Stena Bulk, believes the feasibility study provides an excellent opportunity for the company to understand and assess the technical and economic challenges involved in making carbon capture work onboard vessels.

Funded by the OGCI, the project brings together the energy group’s expertise in carbon capture technologies, carbon dioxide handling, and relevant infrastructure with Stena Bulk’s shipping, trading, and naval engineering knowledge and experience.

The move is being announced on the back of K’Line’s plans to test the world’s first CO2 capture plan onboard a vessel in collaboration with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and ClassNK.

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The Japanese shipping company is scheduled to install a small-scale CO2 capture demonstration plant onboard Corona Utility, a thermal coal carrier operated for Tohoku Electric Power Co., in 2021.

By the end of fiscal 2021, the project partners are expected to start operating the demonstration plant on-board the vessel and measuring the system’s performance under marine conditions.

This project aims to verify the efficacy of capturing and storing CO2 from a vessel’s gas emissions, as well as the operability and safety of CO2 capture facilities at sea.

Carbon capture in shipping is likely to face multiple challenges, including those from the financial perspective, like the return on investment, which is estimated to be up to around 20 years – a lifetime of a ship.

Furthermore, there are numerous technical challenges to be considered, impacting the design of a ship, in addition to the very efficiency of carbon capture technology as such.

One of the key considerations at the moment is the potential size and weight of a carbon plant to be installed on a larger vessel, impacting its cargo holding capacity and sailing efficiency.

Being such a novel proposition in the sector it is yet to be determined what its real potential is.