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Assuring the quality, quantity and emissions abatement of drop-in green fuels

Project LOTUS (Long-term impact of continuous use of biofuels on vessel operations)

In progress

Project overview


Start May 2024 • End Dec 2024

GCMD team members



Chen LI

Long Lit CHEW



Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha


Classification society (TBA)

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While biofuels are available for use today, concerns over vessel performance remain with extended biofuels use.

Unlike conventional marine fuels, biofuels carry a higher content of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME), which can be more susceptible to chemical degradation and microbial growth compared to conventional fossil fuels. The by-products of such undesired chemical reactions can lead to clogging and corrosion of shipboard engine systems. 

While many types of biofuels have been trialled onboard vessels over the past decade, the outcomes of these trials have primarily focused on emissions and combustion characteristics. There remains limited data on the impact of long-term use of biofuels on vessel operations.

The case for the study

To accelerate the deployment of biofuels at scale, we need quantitative, systematic and reliable data/ information to enable end users to:

  • equip themselves with the practical knowledge critical to the use of biodiesel onboard vessel for BAU operations;

  • anticipate proper maintenance of onboard engine and equipment;

  • develop standardised handling and quality monitoring procedures; 

  • gain insights on costs associated with the use of biodiesel in addition to the cost of fuel itself;

  • understand major risks, if any, associated with the continuous use of biodiesel prior to its deployment at scale; and

  • monitor and evaluate the sensitivity of onboard systems to the variability of biofuel sources.  

The insights from this pilot will shed light on engine performance and shipboard operations with extended biofuels use onboard vessels. 

This, in turn, will provide stakeholders across the ecosystem, especially shipowners and charterers as well as biofuel producers, additive suppliers, fuels purchasers, equipment suppliers, insurers, standards committees and regulators – to make more informed business and policy decisions, ultimately leading to greater confidence to use biofuels at scale.

Scope of the pilot

To develop guidelines for vessel maintanence based on long-term use of biofuels, the pilot will encompass three major activities:

  • Shipboard trial using biodiesel blended with Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO)

  • Interview with end users with experience in using biodiesel onboard

  • Investigation of the quality of biodiesel blended VLSFO at bunkering ports and onboard vessels

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