Maersk's ships could soon be running on lignin-based fuels. File Image / Pixabay
Shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk has invested in a Dutch firm seeking to develop fuels from lignin produced from forestry and agricultural residues.
The company's venture arm, Maersk Growth, has made a minority investment of an unspecified size in Netherlands-based Vertoro, Maersk said in a statement on its website on Thursday. The investment will allow Vertoro to further develop its liquid lignin technology and build a demonstration plant due to become operational next year.
The plant will produce marine fuels for Maersk as well as other lignin products.
"Maersk expects several fuel types to exist alongside each other in the future and has identified four potential fuel pathways to decarbonisation: biodiesel, alcohols, ammonia, and lignin-enhanced alcohols," the company said in the statement.
"Lignin is a class of complex organic polymers which form key structural materials in the support tissues of most plants."
Maersk has previously suggested that lignin could be blended together with methanol to improve its energy density. In August a company spokesman said it was looking very actively at the idea, but that it was not yet ready for a commercial scaling-up.
As part of the deal Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, partner at Maersk Growth, will join Vertoro's board.
"Lignin fuels have a promising potential when it comes to decarbonising shipping," Jorgensen said in the statement.
"We consider Vertoro to be a leading start-up in the sustainable biomass-to-liquids space and we are excited to invest in the company and become part of the efforts to effectively scale up production of green fuels.
"Furthermore, we believe that we can offer value beyond capital through the expertise and scale of the broader Maersk organisation."