Biofuel emissions may need more analysis. File Image / Pixabay
More work will be needed to study the emissions beyond just carbon dioxide of biofuel bunkers, according to shipping firm Oldendorff Carriers.
In a LinkedIn post last week the firm shared findings of recent research on biofuel bunkers it supported along with mining company BHP, biofuel producer GoodFuels and Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority.
"When considering alternative fuels like biofuel, more work is needed to study other pollutants such as particulate matter and carbon monoxide, in addition to CO2, NOx and SOx," the company said.
"On a short-term basis, the biofuel is proven.
"Further studies should commence on any potential long-term effects on engine operation, performance and stability of the fuel blends."
The research follows the trial voyage of a bulker running on a biofuel blend last year. 'No operational issues' were found during the trial, according to the report.
Biofuel bunker demand has grown rapidly in the past two years with several shipping companies trying them out as they consider how best to cut carbon emissions. The Port of Rotterdam noted 301,051 m3 of biofuel sales last year.
Biofuels are attractive because they are a drop-in alternative to conventional marine fuels, with little or no modification needed to the existing fleet and delivery infrastructure to run them. But questions remain over the extent to which biofuel production from sustainable feedstock can be scaled up to meet the needs of the entire shipping industry.
Current biofuel sales in Northwest Europe are also heavily reliant on local subsidies, and a wider roll-out of these fuels around the world would be likely to need similar subsidy policies to be introduced at other bunkering hubs.