Glycerine: Viable, Clean Alternative Marine Fuel

By MarEx 2014-10-17 08:59:00

After a year of intense activity Marine SouthEast’s ‘GLEAMS’ (Glycerine Fuel for Marine Sustainability), project has completed. The project consortium have gathered the evidence and conducted the analysis necessary to show that glycerine is a technically feasible very low emissions alternative fuel in the marine market.

Barriers to the adoption of this novel technology have been investigated and options for commercialization defined.

GLEAMS believe there are many initial niche markets for glycerine fuel that will value its non-toxic, clean burning and safe characteristics and will not be hampered by the current lack of extended supply chains for the fuel. The project consortium are now exploring early marine sector applications for this novel fuel including: Wind Farm Support Vessels; Research and Education Vessels; Military Specialist Craft and Super Yachts.

Additionally the market for Cold Ironing (shore power) is recommended as a special case where subsidies (ROCs) would be available in the UK. 

GLEAMS has been particularly successful in overcoming the widely held view that glycerine is unsuitable for use as a fuel due to its physical and chemical properties (it has a negative cetane number). The project has clearly and publicly demonstrated that glycerine can be used as a fuel in compression ignition engines by displaying the GLEAMS emissions test engine running on glycerine for three days during Seawork International 2014. 

Aware of the effort required to raise awareness of glycerine as a marine fuel the project has conducted a successful publicity campaign that has attracted worldwide interest. Over 85 press articles have been published including some special features. 127 approved specialists have joined the online 'GLEAMS Interest Group' that will be maintained beyond the end of the project. 

Over the short to medium term the project expects the technology to be adopted, at least on a trial basis in one or more niche markets. Once proven in these early applications take up can be expected to grow organically, allowing for the unknowns of the global fuel market. It is certain that as regulations governing atmospheric emissions from ships become ever tighter, glycerine fuel will meet any envisaged limits on CO2, NOx, sulfur, particulate matter and soot.

GLEAMS is a 'Vessel Efficiency Program' project, supported by InnovateUK and DSTL.