DecarbonICE – making CO2 from fossil fuels safe for the environment

Jan 05 | 2020

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

DecarbonICE - making CO2 from fossil fuels safe for the environment

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 be introduced and scaled by 2050 to reach the target.

Maritime carbon capture and storage

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

On-board 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.

Leading shipowners and yards

A group of world leading shipping companies have therefore teamed up with the Denmark-based Maritime Development Center to develop such an on-board carbon capture and storage solution in a project named decarbonICE.

DecarbonICE is based on two new main ideas for the capture and storage, respectively. The CO2 and other greenhouse gasses in the ship’s exhaust are captured on board in a cryogenic process and turned into dry ice. Proven offshore technology is then applied during normal ship operations to bury the dry ice into the seafloor sediments. Here the CO2 will be safely and permanently stored as liquid CO2 and CO2 hydrate.

Enables carbon negative shipping

The decarbonICE concept is intended for new ships, but also for retrofitting on existing vessels, thereby providing the opportunity to accelerate the transition towards the IMO target. In combination with future carbon-neutral fuels such as 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.

The project started on 1 October, 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 availability of zero carbon or carbon neutral fuels, we believe that a bridging carbon free solution is needed, which can utilise existing assets in terms of ships, propulsion systems and fuels,” said the chairman of the decarbonICE project, Henrik O Madsen. “The decarbonICE project is intended to offer exactly that, and at a predicted low energy penalty well below 10%.”

Taizo Yoshida, General Manager of NYK’s Technical Group added:  “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.”

“The maritime industry seems to be overlooking that on-board carbon capture with
subsequent storage at appropriate sites may also qualify as a carbon free solution,” said Odin Kwon, from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) that is also involved in the project.  “At DSME we are following several Korean research groups studying the behaviour of CO2 injected into seabed sediments. The success of the decarbonICE project will also depend on how the required power can be minimised for the cryogenic cooling process.”

Mining company Vale wants to contribute to reduce 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.

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