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MARAD launches 16-month study on alternative fuels and power options for Great Lakes shipping

The US Maritime Administration (MARAD)—the US Department of Transportation agency responsible for the US waterborne transportation system—launched a 16-month study exploring low-carbon options for shipping on the Great Lakes. The study group, led by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in partnership with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers (GSGP), will assess the suitability of alternative fuels and power options for Great Lakes shipping.

The bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System is one of the largest commercial waterways in the country and is essential to strengthening the economy, supply chain, and the creation of jobs. It extends more than 2,000 miles and contains more than 110 ports.



The Great Lakes/Seaway System is a 3,700 km “marine highway” that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. More than 200 million tonnes of cargo travel on the waterway on an annual basis.

Over a period of 16 months, researchers will assess alternative fuels and power options in the region and will develop a detailed profile of Great Lakes fleets, ports, and fueling infrastructure.

MARAD’s biofuel initiative began in 2010 and has since then grown into a multi-agency cooperative effort for testing of hydro-treated renewable biodiesels (HRD) on board MARAD-owned training ships and other vessels.

MARAD-sponsored projects have included testing of blended and neat fuels (unblended fuel) compared with ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) as baseline fuel on board training ships both underway and pier-side.

In 2014, MARAD began working with the Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate marine applications of fuel cells.


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