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World’s First CO2 Capture Plant Installed on Japanese Bulker

world's first carbon capture unit on an ocean going vessel
Carbon capture unit installed for testing on a Japanese bulker ("K" Line)

Published Aug 5, 2021 12:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

A Japanese project to test carbon capture on ships has successfully completed the world’s first installation of an operational CO2 capture plant aboard an ocean going vessel and is moving into the commissioning and testing phase. The project is being led by Japan’s Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (“K” Line) working with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding that installed the unit and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK) and seeks to conduct the first at sea tests to validate the operations of the small-sized CO2 capture plant.

The installation is part of a two-year project launched by “K” Line and its partners in August 2020. The project is being conducted with support from the Maritime Bureau of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), and involves converting the design of an existing CO2 capture system for onshore power plants to a marine environment.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding retrofitted the demonstration unit aboard a five-year-old bulk carrier, the Corona Unity, operated by “K” Line for Tohoku Electric Power Co. The 88,715 dwt vessel, which is employed transporting coal, departed Yokohama, Japan at the beginning of the week for Newcastle, Australia.

In announcing the project in 2020, “K” Line said, “As the world’s first marine demonstration test, the project will provide invaluable insights into facilities design and technologies for capture CO2 emissions.” 

During the next phase of the project, engineers from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding will travel on the ship during its voyage to undertake the commissioning of the CO2 capture plant and conduct an initial performance evaluation while the vessel is at sea. MHI and “K” Line expects to then conduct additional verification testing operating the CO2 capture system with the ship’s crew. In the spring of 2022, they expect to complete an evaluation of the operations, safety, and performance of the CO2 capture unit.

“K” Line is also working with MHI to further develop the technology. They are exploring downsizing the unit both in size and weight as the next step toward commercialization.

The carbon captured from the vessel is expected to be recycled as a new CO2 source for the enhanced oil recovery process or as a raw material in synthetic fuel through methanization.