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Renewable wood-based biofuels for shipping

The ReShip project, led by the Paper and Fibre Research Institute (PFI) with R&D partners Aston University (UK) and NTNU (Norway), is developing technology for producing a cost-competitive pyrolysis-oil-based multi-component fuel which meets the performance requirements of marine diesel engines. The project is partly funded by the Research Council of Norway (The ENERGIX program).

The project is based on an innovative approach for producing partly upgraded, storage stable and sulfur-free bio-oil from wood feedstocks by fast pyrolysis technology.

ReShip concept. Click to enlarge.

ReShip project will use low-quality wood waste, chippings and unmerchantable wood left in forests after logging has occurred for feedstock for the fast pyrolysis process. The resulting crude pyrolysis oil cannot be used directly in diesel engines as it is too unstable.

To counter this, ReShip researchers are looking to stabilize freshly produced pyrolysis biofuel through mild, rapid, low-temperature catalytic hydrogen treatment. In cooperation with PFI they will also seek to blend the bio-oil with conventional diesel and surfactant to form a multi-component fuel.

The most promising fuels will then be engine tested to assess their quality and use for potential marine transport.

The US$537,000 project is funded by Norwegian industry partners and the Research Council of Norway and will run until 2017.

In marine transport there is a particular need to develop low-sulfur fuel alternatives to conventional fossil bunker oils due to upcoming regulations which demand that low-sulfur fuels shall be used in shipping in various regions.

ReShip aims to develop alternative sustainable sulfur free transportation fuels that will contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

The project consortium includes industry partners along the whole value chain from forest owners to end users in shipping.




All of these "renewable" fuel programs which ignore the elephant in the room:  there simply isn't enough feedstock to supply more than a small fraction of the total demand.

To get rid of petroleum fuels, something else must do the heavy lifting.  And once you have that something else, what role will be left for wood-derived fuels?


Well, I read that the US is exporting a lot of wood chips, much of it mesquite from Texas, so EU can meet its renewability mandates. Mesquite is actually a non-native pest to the area, along with tumbleweed and kudzu.

I'd say we should be glad to get rid of it, or better yet, make this bio-bunker fuel in the US.

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