NYK Plans Full-Scale Biofuel Trial Over Longer Period Validating Stability

bulker loading biofuel in Singapore
Frontier Jacaranda loaded biofuel in 2021 as part of progressive testing of the alternative fuel (NYK)

Published Dec 27, 2023 8:52 PM by The Maritime Executive


NYK will conduct full-scale trials of long-term use of biofuels starting in 2024 as the company looks to advance on its goals for reducing carbon emissions. The latest program comes as a progressive series of tests expanding the use of biofuel in partnership with its shipping customers.

“Moving forward from the previous short-term trials, NYK will comprehensively verify the safety and stable procurement of biofuels when used over a long period. Through this trial, NYK will establish a safe navigation system using biofuels and promote biofuel development,” according to the company’s announcement.

In this trial, NYK will use biofuel continuously for three months on multiple vessel types. After that, NYK will gradually extend biofuel use for a longer period for further validation. This test will explore the impact of extending the length of use of the fuel and issues such as storage of the fuel.

NYK highlights that while it has confirmed the safety of short-term biofuel use, it has not verified the impact of biofuels on the ship’s main engine, generator, motor, fuel supply system, etc. One of the key points they will be exploring is the quality of biofuels after a certain storage period.

Since fiscal 2019, the NYK Group has conducted short-term biofuel trials on about 10 vessels. NYK also needed to ensure the stability of biofuel procurement when used in more vessels.

The testing of biofuel has advanced since the first trial in 2019 when they tried biofuel on a dry bulk carrier Frontier Sky while the vessel was docked in Rotterdam. Working with shippers Anglo American and biofuel supplier Toyota Tsusho, they ran a longer test loading the fuel in Singapore aboard the bulk carrier Frontier Jacaranda for a voyage to South Africa in June 2021. A third bulk carrier, Frontier Sky, conducted a trial voyage from Singapore to India in November 2021.

Last year, NYK expanded the trials including operating a round trip between Singapore and South Africa aboard a Capesize bulker named Friendship. That test confirmed that biofuel can result in up to a 10 percent CO2 emissions reduction compared to conventional marine fuel.

NYK working with Shin-Nippon Kaiyosha which operates tugboats launched the first test of 100 percent concentration biodiesel on a ship. Starting in July 2022 they tested navigation on the higher concentration of biodiesel.

The upcoming test looks to extend the previous experience by increasing the period during which biofuel is used on the ship as well as involving an increasing number and type of vessels. It is a key part of the company’s goal to cut emissions by 45 percent from 2021 level by 2030.