The pressure for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on all industries continues to grow as scientists pile up the evidence that climate change is happening and it has devastating impacts. Out of all sectors, however, the one which has to seriously change the way it operates is the transport, and this reflects in numerous regulations issued by Environmental Protection Agency.
A small start-up, SeaChange Group, together with scientists from the Maine Maritime Academy, might just have developed what the industry needs. A new, eco-hybrid fuel, which significantly cuts down emissions and particulate matter, in comparison with its equivalent in power output, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel competitor.
The eco-hybrid fuel is a mix between diesel and a very cheap and highly renewable glycerol, produced as a by-product of the bio-diesel industry. The team tested the product at the Marine Engine Testing and Emissions Laboratory (METEL), where they noted a reduction in smoke of up to 50% and values for nitrogen oxids (NOx) brought down by 15%. What is more, the team observed that the more glycerol is added to the mix, the more pronounced trend was observed in reducing emissions. Unfortunately, the downside was that the addition of glycerol resulted in reduction in energy density and fuel consumption.
The new eco-hybrid fuel has been found extremely suitable for use on ships, where conventional diesel fuel causes incredible pollution. As the industry has been put under enormous pressure to reduce emissions, the news that the new fuel has received a patent, is received as a small but quite significant breath of fresh air.
Although still at a very early stage of development, the product was granted funding from the Maine Technology Institute as well as from the US Department of Transportation. The team now plans to use these funds in order to test the eco-hybrid fuel on working vessels and improve it accordingly.
Image (c) SeaChange Group