A.P. Møller - Mærsk and Wallenius Wilhelmsen have teamed up with Copenhagen University and major customers to explore the environmental and commercial viability of LEO fuel – a blend of lignin and ethanol – for shipping.

“Shipping requires bespoke low-carbon fuel solutions which can make the leap from the laboratory to the global shipping fleet. Initiatives such as the LEO Coalition are an important catalyst in this process,” explained Søren Toft, Maersk chief operating officer.

Lignin is a structural bio-polymer which contributes to the rigidity of plants. Lignin is isolated in large quantities as a by-product of lignocellulosic ethanol and pulp and paper mills. Currently, it is often incinerated to produce steam and electricity.

Craig Jasienski, Wallenius Wilhelmsen chief executive officer, said: “Clearly, LEO would be a great step forward for supply chain sustainability, and it has the potential to be a viable solution for today’s fleet, and not just a future vision.”

Copenhagen University is currently running the laboratory-scale development of this potential marine fuel. The project aims to move into phase two – testing the fuel on actual vessel engines – in the second quarter of 2020. Phase three will involved scaling up of LEO fuel production.