GCMD sheds light on role of FAME biofuel in maritime operations

The Global Center for Maritime Decarbonization (GCMD) has published a report which sheds light on the quality of Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) biofuel and FAME blends.

As part of GCMD’s initiative to develop an assurance framework for drop-in green fuels, the “Tracking the propensity of biofuels degradation across the maritime supply chain” paper presents findings from tracking the quality of FAME and FAME blends with residual marine fuels as they move through supply chains.

According to the report, the results from the end-to-end supply chain trials indicate no significant degradation of FAME due to autoxidation, hydrolytic oxidation, or microbial contamination under standard commercial operation conditions. These findings support the feasibility of using FAME in the marine fuels supply chain.

The trial provided valuable data on the behavior of FAME during handling, transportation, blending, and storage across commercial supply chains over five months. As biofuel adoption increases, the shipping industry will need to continue building a comprehensive database to develop best practices for biofuel use.

These findings complement existing laboratory-based studies by emphasizing the importance of environmental testing conditions. For instance, a recent Oldendorff Carriers study tested FAME under controlled and extreme conditions, including 5% water exposure without antioxidants at varying temperatures, demonstrating fuel stability degradation.

However, commercial bunkering operations, adhering to ISO 8217 specifications, mandate a maximum water content of 0.5%v/v, making the 5% water scenario unlikely in practice. In this trial, fuel aliquots collected at all sampling points showed water content in FAME below the ISO 8217 threshold.

Both sets of findings are essential for a comprehensive understanding of FAME degradation behavior, informing commercial decision-making and operational best practices. Proper fuel quality control through monitoring critical properties, handling, and storage is recommended to prevent accelerated degradation.

GCMD and partners have recently launched an additional pilot to investigate the impact of long-term biofuel use on engines and fuel delivery systems. This pilot focuses on engine operations and performance, providing complementary insights to harness the full potential of biofuels.

The report also highlights that continued collaboration between industry players, academics, and research institutions will be crucial for expanding the knowledge base to optimize biofuel blends, ensuring a sustainable maritime future, and meeting aggressive IMO decarbonization targets.

Tags: Biofuels, FAME, GCMD, Marine Operations
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