Norden explores use of lignin-based biofuel

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Image: Norden A/S

Danish ship operator Norden A/S has entered into a partnership with Kvasir Technologies, a spin-out from the Technical University of Denmark that has a patented technology to produce fuel from plant material.

“At Norden, we want to drive the shipping industry towards a cleaner future. If we are to truly make a difference, testing fuel alternatives is the right starting point,” says Henrik Røjel, Fuel Efficiency and Decarbonization Manager at Norden.

Kvasir Technologies focuses on transforming the part of biomass known as lignin and using it in fuel production. Lignin is a papermaking byproduct often burned in pulp mills as fuel. It’s an organic copolymer found in wood — and it’s what makes newsprint turn yellow, which is why it is removed in making higher grades of paper.

There are a number of ways to convert biomass to liquid fuels. Kvasir’s technology stands out as it is able to convert not only cellulose but also lignin into a liquid biofuel product.

“This project will demonstrate the suitability of our biofuel as bunkers and further accelerate the technological development,” says Joachim Bachmann Nielsen, CEO at Kvasir Technologies.

Finding better and greener alternatives to fossil fuel is a high priority for Norden which, in 2018, became the first shipping company to conduct a test voyage on a large ocean-going vessel powered by CO2 neutral biofuel.

“Norden wants to be a front runner in this phase of experimentation and help gather intelligence that will hopefully make a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions and help the industry reach the ambitious goal for 2050 set by the International Maritime Organisation,” says Røjel. “In the effort to be a front runner, Norden is assisting in the testing and development of biofuel on its owned vessels while working on making biofuel a standard on the company’s long-term chartered vessels.”

A full-scale test of Kvasir’s fuel will be conducted on one of Norden’s vessels at a later stage during theplanned three and a half year collaboration, where the purpose is to achieve better knowledge of the characteristics of biofuel and prove its suitability for future use.

The biofuel collaboration between Norden and Kvasir Technologies is part of ShippingLab – a joint industry initiative aimed at developing Danish competences in the fields of digitalization, autonomous shipping and environment-friendly technology.

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