Maersk has joined forces with the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (DSGC) to carry out a pilot test using second-generation biofuel on one of its Tripe-E box ships on a scale never seen before.

DSGC members FrieslandCampina, Heineken, Philips, DSM, Shell and Unilever are collaborating with Maersk to carry out a pilot using up to 20% sustainable second-generation biofuels on a large triple-E ocean vessel. This will sail from Rotterdam to Shanghai and back on biofuel blends alone – a world’s first at this scale, saving 1.5M kg of CO2 and 20,000 kg of sulphur.

DSGC members and Maersk said in a statement that they all agree “tackling harmful emissions related to shipping is urgently needed, and cross-industry collaboration is required to develop, test and implement new solutions”. The DSGC members, many of which are Maersk’s customers, played a critical role initiating and sponsoring the pilot. Shell acted as the fuel supplier for the pilot, and Maersk operating partner.

DSGC chair Jan Peter Balkenende said “This pilot testing biofuel on a cross-ocean shipping lane marks an important step. However, many more innovations are urgently needed. These can only be successfully developed, tested and implemented in industry collaborations like this.”

AP Moller-Maersk chief operating officer Søren Toft commented “To reach our net zero CO2 target by 2050, in the next 10 years we need big breakthroughs. Maersk cannot do this alone. That is why this collaboration with DSGC and its members is such an important step in identifying and bringing low carbon solutions to life. It laid the foundation for how cross-industry partners can work together to take steps towards a more sustainable future. We welcome others to join in our efforts, as this journey is just beginning.”

Mr Toft added “Biofuels are one of the viable solutions that can be implemented in the short and medium term. Through this pilot, we aim to learn more about using biofuels in general, and to understand the possibilities around increasing its use in a sustainable and economical way.”

The biofuel used in this pilot is a second-generation biofuel, produced from waste sources, in this case used cooking oil. Second-generation biofuel means the biofuel comes from waste products including used cooking oil, forest residues, wood chip waste etc. This biofuel is ISCC-certified, meaning the whole chain is third-party certified. The benefit of biofuel is that it can replace/be blended with conventional fuels without large technical adaptations to the engines.