GLEAMS Interest Group

FAQs – The use of Glycerine as a Marine Fuel

·         Are Glycerine, Glycerol, and Glycerin the same substance?

 

Yes.   It is a simple polyhydric alcohol that is a colourless, odourless, liquid. Unlike diesel and HFO which are complex blends of hydrocarbon molecules, it is a single chemical compound with a highly oxygenated structure.   It is widely used by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries but despite their needs there is still an oversupply of the substance in the global market.

 

·         What are the sources of Glycerine?

 

Crude glycerine is a by-product of bio diesel production.  The current oversupply will increase significantly as the requirement to replace petroleum fuels with bio fuel takes effect. 

 

There is also the potential to develop an independent fuel chain through the use of Algal Glycerine.

 

·         Is Glycerine compatible with most existing diesel engines?

 

The holders of the patents (Aquafuel) tell us the fuel could be used in all suitably modified diesel engines.  This applies equally to four stroke high and medium speed engines and large two stroke engines.  The technology should be applicable across the range of diesel engines employed in shipping.

 

·         What are the price  and emission reduction comparisons with LNG-fuelled solutions

 

It is too soon for us to answer this question fully, that is part of the GLEAMS Project’s work.  However we can say:

 

o   The combustion of Glycerine is more thermally efficient than MDO or HFO and therefore the basic carbon reduction calculation is improved.

o   Glycerine has no sulphur emissions

o   However, EU renewable Energy Directive quotes crude glycerol as ‘0’ % carbon – cleaned fuel grade Glycerine will be ~ 2 -3% (97-98% carbon free ‘OFGEM’) carbon level of MDO or HFO.

 

·         Have any sea trials or testing been conducted with glycerol as a fuel

 

The technology is already in use in the construction sector for combined heat and power plants but has not been tested at sea yet.  During the GLEAMS Project land based engine testing will be carried out to a marine duty cycle (specified by Lloyds Register) with emissions measurements being undertaken by Redwing Environmental.

 

·         Any safety concerns related to glycerine, or possible drawbacks in operational efficiency

 

Glycerine is non-toxic, and water soluble and unlike many other fuels there are no fire or vapour risk criteria associated with it.  On land internally coated steel fuel tanks or stainless steel tanks are preferred for storage but the project will be looking at the requirements for Glycerine as a marine fuel and investigating the benefits and barriers to using it.

Will glycerine ever be viable option for larger, deep-sea vessels, and if so, what obstacles will need to be overcome first?

Glycerine can power any compression ignition engine of any size – the obstacles will be the potential growth of the fuel chain and the attraction of glycerine as a fuel for more effective carbon reduction economic projects.  Logistical and cost considerations  are likely to determine the extent of marine deployment.


GLEAMS Interest Group

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