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Biorefinery for sustainable marine fuel to be built in Denmark

The Port of Frederikshavn, Steeper Energy and Aalborg University are partnering to establish a biomass biorefinery in Denmark to produce a sustainable drop-in sulfur-free marine fuel that will serve more than 100,000 vessels passing through the port annually. The plant will use Steeper Energy’s hydrothermal liquefaction process (HydroFaction) to produce an oil that can be used directly as marine propulsion fuel (or upgraded further to produce drop-in diesel or jet fuel).

In May, Steeper and Aalborg University opened a new hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) facility designed to test HydroFaction feedstocks. The Aalborg facility is a continuous bench scale model of future larger commercial systems.

Coming into effect on 1 January 2015, SOx Emission Control Areas (SECA) regions will reduce the permissible sulfur content in marine fuel to zero, forcing fleet operators to either install flue gas cleaning equipment on board, or switch to a sulfur-free fuel. With current options this corresponds to annual expenditure increases of several hundred million Euros.

According to CEO at the Port of Frederikshavn, Mikkel Seedorf Sørensen, the port could potentially serve an annual marine fuel market of at least 900,000 tons.

The size of the plant is initially set at around 50-100,000 tons fuel annually, covering only part of the potential market. To produce this, some two to three times as much wood will be sourced from locations such as Russia, the Baltic nations, Sweden, Finland or even Canada.

Aalborg University will carry out a longer term research effort on mixing in locally sourced feedstocks to ensure product quality and operating conditions before implementing this in full scale.

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