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"decarbonICE" – creating a pathway to carbon negative shipping

A consortium of world-leading shipping companies including Nippon Yusen Kaisha Group (NYK), PAO Sovcomflot (SCF), Knutsen OAS and Ardmore Shipping Corporation (Ardmore), shipbuilders, including Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd (DSME) and Brazilian mining company Vale S.A., have teamed up with Denmark-based Maritime Development Center (MDC) to develop onboard carbon capture and storage (CCS) solution in a project named "decarbonICE".

The decarbonICE project concept is based on two new main ideas for the capture and storage part, respectively. The carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG’s) in the ship exhaust is captured onboard in a cryogenic process and turned into dry ice. Proven offshore technology is then applied during normal ship operations to transport the dry ice into the seafloor sediments. Here the CO2 will be safely and permanently stored as liquid CO2 and CO2 hydrate (illustration courtesy MDC).

The global shipping industry is looking for carbon-free solutions to achieve the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2050 target of a 50 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction compared to the 2008 level.

While better technical and operational solutions must continue to be pursued, they will only bring the industry part of the way. Low or zero-carbon fuel solutions must also be introduced and scaled by 2050 to reach the target.

Maritime carbon capture and storage

Numerous initiatives and pilot projects with zero carbon or carbon-neutral fuels are being launched in these years. They are first introduced for short sea shipping with an ambition that the solutions can later be scaled to deep-sea shipping, which accounts for 80 percent of shipping’s CO2 emissions.

Onboard carbon capture with subsequent storage at appropriate sites may also be part of an eventual solution. In this context, the use of conventional fossil fuels may become carbon-free in a “funnel-pipe” emission context.

A group of world-leading shipping companies including NYK, Sovcomflot, Knutsen OAS and Ardmore, shipbuilders, including DSME and the mining company Vale, have therefore teamed up with Maritime Development Center (MDC) in Denmark looking at the possibility of developing such onboard carbon capture and storage (CCS) solution in a project named decarbonICE.

As a leading and responsible shipping company, we have been studying many proposals for future propulsion systems and fuels to achieve the IMO 2050 target. We are very excited about the opportunity created through the decarbonICE technology, and we strongly support this as one of the possible ways to achieve the target, said Taizo Yoshida, Corporate Officer, General Manager of NYK’s Technical Group.

The decarbonICE concept is based on two new main ideas for the capture and storage part, respectively. The CO2 and other GHG’s in the ship exhaust are captured onboard in a cryogenic process and turned into dry ice.

Proven offshore technology is then applied during normal ship operations to transport the dry ice into the seafloor sediments. Here the CO2 will be safely and permanently stored as liquid CO2 and CO2 hydrate.

The maritime industry seems to be overlooking that onboard carbon capture with subsequent storage at appropriate sites may also qualify as a carbon-free solution. At DSME we are following several Korean research groups studying the behavior of CO2 injected into seabed sediments. The success of the decarbonICE project will also depend on how the required power can be minimized for the cryogenic cooling process, said Odin Kwon, Chief Technical Officer of DSME.

Enable carbon-negative shipping

The decarbonICE concept is intended for ship newbuilds, but also for retrofitting on existing vessels, thereby providing the opportunity to accelerate the transition towards the IMO target.

On January 30, 2019, NYK's Frontier Sky conducted a trial use of marine biofuel in Europe after the biofuel was bunkered at the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. The trial was performed in collaboration with BHP, GoodFuels and Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC) a developer of blockchain applications for the maritime industry (photo courtesy BLOC).

On January 30, 2019, NYK’s Frontier Sky conducted a trial use of marine biofuel in Europe after the biofuel was bunkered at the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. The trial was performed in collaboration with BHP, GoodFuels and Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC) a developer of blockchain applications for the maritime industry (photo courtesy BLOC).

In combination with future carbon-neutral fuels like biofuels and electro fuels, the decarbonICE technology can create carbon-negative shipping and thus contribute to atmospheric carbon reduction at a significantly lower cost than shore-based carbon capture.

Vale wants to contribute to reducing emissions of its customers and suppliers, and the shipping industry is included in this strategy. DecarbonICE is one of the technologies that has been studied by Vale in order to achieve this goal, said Vagner Loyola, Ferrous Value Chain Director at Vale.

The project started October 1, 2019, and will run through 2020. The aim is to prepare a feasibility study and to initiate the IMO approval process for the technology.

While we support a final goal of the availability of zero-carbon or carbon-neutral fuels, we believe that a bridging carbon-free solution is needed, which can utilize existing assets in terms of ships, propulsion systems, and fuels. The decarbonICE project is intended to offer exactly that, and at a predicted low energy penalty well below 10 percent, said the Chairman of the decarbonICE project, former DNV GL President and CEO Henrik O. Madsen.

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