MOL Group company MOL Coastal Shipping has begun operating a 499gt coastal ro-ro vessel, ‘Tetsuun Maru No1’ owned by Tetsuun Kisen KK, using biofuel made by mixing waste cooking oil directly with HFO.
This marks Japan’s first initiative to use this kind of biofuel to marine vessels. The waste cooking oil is derived in Japan from vegetable oils and fats, without chemical treatment. Hanwa supplied the biofuel to the vessel in the Chukyo region as part of a research programme on marine applications of biofuels by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, in cooperation with Tokyo Steel Manufacturing, the cargo shipper. The vessel has operated on the biofuel mixture for about a month, plying a route between Mikawa Bay and Tokyo Bay, and reported no flammability problems or other issues.
Until now, the main raw material for biofuels has been Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME), which is produced by chemical processing of waste cooking oil and methanol. In this project, used cooking oil was mixed with heavy oil A (mixing ratio of Bio was 24%) in almost its original form as straight vegetable oil (SVO) and used in a general-purpose coastal ship. Since the SVO undergoes no methyl esterification or hydrogenation process, it is considered to reduce CO2 emissions even more than other biofuels and can be supplied at a lower cost.
Biofuel is positioned as an effective clean alternative fuel that can be used without changing the specifications of the vessel’s main engines, and so on. It can be an effective means of reducing CO2 emissions, especially in small coastal vessels that have limited space for tanks and other equipment required for other alternative fuels.
This initiative on coastal ro-ro vessels follows a sea trial for use of liquefied biomethane fuel conducted in June 2023, and through these initiatives, the MOL Group hopes to contribute to the reduction and decarbonisation of ocean transport.