A.P. Moller Maersk and Wallenius Wilhelmsen have teamed up with Copenhagen University and major customers including BMW Group, H&M Group, Levi Strauss & Co. and Marks & Spencer to form the LEO Coalition, which will explore the environmental and commercial viability of LEO fuel as a possible solution for sustainable shipping. Copenhagen University is currently running the laboratory-scale development of this potential marine fuel. The project aims to move into phase II – testing the fuel on vessel engines – in the second quarter of 2020. Phase III and the scaling up of LEO fuel production will begin following the successful completion of Phase II.
LEO fuel is a blend of lignin and ethanol. Lignin is a structural bio-polymer which contributes to the rigidity of plants, isolated in large quantities as a byproduct of lignocellulosic ethanol and pulp and paper mills. Currently, it is often incinerated to produce steam and electricity.
Companies in many sectors are exploring solutions to reduce emissions along their value chains. This includes the transportation and logistics sector which delivers those goods. According to Maersk, around 80% of the everyday usage goods are delivered by sea and shipping accounts for 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, and this proportion is set to increase as global trade continues to grow at a steady pace. As such, this industry has a need to reduce its environmental impact.
However, the marine sector has very different fuel requirements than automotive or aviation. “Shipping requires bespoken low-carbon fuel solutions which can make the leap from the laboratory to the global shipping fleet. Initiatives such as the LEO Coalition are an important catalyst in this process”, explains Søren Toft, Maersk Chief Operating Officer.
“LEO would be a great step forward for supply chain sustainability, and it has the potential to be a viable solution for today’s fleet, and not just a future vision,” says Craig Jasienski, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Chief Executive Officer.
Helena Helmersson, Chief Operating Officer at H&M Group states that “climate change is an ongoing reality and a key challenge to all industries, including fashion. This coalition gives us the opportunity to explore the development of a low-carbon fuel for shipping today”.
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