Environmental Risk Aversion for Waste Derived Biomass

1.0 Introduction

This 21st century has become an age of recycling where a lots of emphasize is placed on reuse of material to curb current environmental problems and maximize use of depleting natural resources and energy conservation. Modern day sustainable use and management of resource recommend need to incorporate recycling culture in our ways of life including technological process. Biomass is not left behind in this; the use of biomass energy resource derived from the carbonaceous waste of various natural and human activities to produce electricity is becoming popular. Biomass is considered as one of the clean, more- efficient and more-stable means of power generation. And it has become imperative for marine industry to tap this new evolving power generation mode especially the use of micro generation approach considering the mobile nature of ships.

Biofuels exist in solid, liquid or gas form thereby potentially affecting three of our core markets. Solid biofuels or biomass tend to be used in external combustion, however its use in the shipping industry has been limited to liquid biofuel due to lack of appropriate information economics forecasts, Sources of biomass include by-products from the timber industry, agricultural crops, raw material from the forest, major parts of household waste, and demolition wood, all things being equal using pure biomass that do not affect human and ecological chain make it suitable energy source. Biomass has low sulfur content means biomass combustion therefore considered much less acidifying than with coal, for example. Also, the ashes from biomass consumption, which are very low in heavy metals, can be recycled.

One advantage of biomass compared to other renewable-based systems that require costly advanced technology (such as solar photovoltaics) is that biomass can generate electricity with the same type of equipment and power plants that now burn fossil fuels. Many innovations in power generation with other fossil fuels may also be adaptable to the use of biomass fuels. Various factors have hindered the growth of the renewable energy resource, however. Most biomass power plants operating today are characterized by low boiler and thermal-plant efficiencies; both the fuel’s characteristics and the small size of most facilities contribute to these efficiencies. In addition, such plants are costly to build.

Biomass remains potential renewable energy contributor to net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting CO2 from fossil generation. The current method generating biomass power is biomass fired boilers and Rankine steam turbines. Recent research work in developing sustainable, and economic biomass focus on high-pressure supercritical steam cycles , use of feedstock supply system, and conversion of biomass to a low or medium gas that can be fired in combustion turbine cycles, resulting in efficiencies one-and-a-half times that of a simple steam turbine. biofuels has potential to influence marine industry, and it as become importance for designers and ship owners to accept their influence on the world fleet of the future especially the micro generation concept with co generation for cargo and fuel for  ships.

The paper discuss conceptual work, trend , sociopolitical driver, economic, development, and future of biomass with hope to bring awareness to local, national and multinational bodies making biofuels policies as well as maritime multidisciplinary expertise in regulation, economics, engineering, and vessel design and operation. The paper also discusses how the shipping industry can take advantage of growing tide to tap benefit promised by waste use power generation system.

2.0 Biomass developmental trend

The concept of use of Biofuels for energy generation has has been existing concept, and in the face of challenges posed by environmental need, its growth is likely to dominate renewable energy market. Following the advent of peanut oil diesel engines developed by Rudolf Diesel in 1911 the production and use of biofuels worldwide has grown significantly in recent years. The current world biofuels market is focused on: Bioethanol blended into fossil motor gasoline (petrol) or used directly and biodiesel or Fatty Acid Methyl Ester diesel blended into fossil diesel. However the use of The Fischer-Tropsch model that involve catalyzed chemical reaction to produce a synthetic petroleum substitute, typically from coal, natural gas or biomass, for use as synthetic lubrication oil or as a synthetic fuel seem promising and negate risk posed by food based biomass. This synthetic fuel runs only in diesel engines and some aircraft engines. Oil, product and chemical tankers being constructed now are likely to benefit much more from use of biomas. However use on gasoline engines ignites the vapors at much higher temperatures, which pose limitation to inland water craft.

Biomass generation and growing trend can be classified into 3 generation types:

  • first generation’ biofuels relate to biofuels made from sugar or starch, producing bioethanol, and vegetable oil or animal fats producing biodiesel. First generation biofuels provoke increasing criticism through their dependence on food crops and issues over biodiversity, land use and human rights. Hybrid technology for percentage blending is being employed to mitigate food production impact.
  • Second generation biofuels mitigate problem posed by the first generation biofuels. They do not affect food crops because they are made from waste biomass from agricultural and forestry, fast-growing grasses and trees specially grown as so-called “energy crops”. With technology, sustainability and cost issues to overcome, second-generation biofuels are still several years away from commercial viability and many second generation mass produced biofuels are still under development including the biomass to liquid. Fischer-Tropsch production technique.
  • third generation biofuels are green fuels like algae biofuel made from energy and biomass crops that have been designed in such a way that their structure or properties conform to the requirements of a particular bioconversion process. They are made from such as sewage, and grown on ponds.

Just like tanker revolution influence on ship type, demand for biomass will bring, will bring capacity, bio -material or completed product from source to production area and then to the point of use, will bring technological, environmental change will require ships of different configuration, size and tank coating type. As well as impact on the tonne mile demand will change accordingly.

Effect on shipping is likely to follow shipping large scale growth on exports and seaborne trade from key exporting regions, particularly South America. Brazil has a key role. Brazil has already been branded to be producing en-mass ethanol from sugar cane since the 1970s with a cost per unit reportedly the lowest in the world. And it is currently exploring ethanol

Table 1 – World ethanol consumption 2007


World ethanol consumption –

51 million tones, 2007

Us and brazil


EU and China –

17% – surplus of 0.1 million tones

US deficit –


EU deficit –

1.3 mt

World – deficit


Recent year is also witnessing  emerging trade on biofuel product between the US, EU, and Asia and whilst Brazil exports the most ethanol globally at about 2.9 million tonnes per year, the top importers of the US, EU,Japan and Korea have increasing demand that will have to be satisfied by increased shipping capacity. Seaborne vegetable oil supply is increasingly growing

Table 2 – Biofuel growth

Vegetable oil

33 mt in 2000 to 59 mt in 2008

Palm oil

13 mt in 2000 to 32 mt forecast in 2008.

a 7.5% p.a growth rate

Soya bean

7 mt to some 11.5 mt in 2008,


imports – 5.7 mt in 2001 to an expected 10.3 mt for 2008


3.1 mt in 2001 to 5.2 mt forecast for 2008


Production capacity- 1.9 mt in 2002 to 11 mt in 2007, with 2007.

50% of total capacity.

Recently biofuel is driving a new technology, Worldwide; the use of biofuels for cars and public vehicles has grown significantly. With excess capacity waiting for source material it seems inevitable that shipping demand will increase.

3.0 Inter industry Best Practice

3.1 Land based use – 

  • UK pumps mandate at least 2.5% biofuels. This target will rise to 5% by 2010. Also in the UK, the first train to run on biodiesel went into service in June 2007 for a six month trial period. The train uses a blended fuel, which is 20% biodiesel and the operator, Virgin Trains, is confident the mix can be increased to at least a 50% mix with the further possibility to run trains on fuels entirely from non-carbon sources.
  • On January 15, 2006- Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA lunch a program to test a 20% blend of biodiesel (B20) in its buses. In two months they used approximately 45,000 gallons of B20. As a result of the test, in April 2006 they began using biodiesel fleet-wide. In addition to using B20 in the winter months, COTA has committed to using 50-90% biodiesel blends (B50 – B90) during the summer months. This is projected to decrease regular diesel fuel consumption by over one million gallons per year.
  • 26th of October 2007. buses in the UK running on B100 was launched on  In a pilot project. Argent Energy (UK) Limited is working together with Stagecoach to supply biodiesel made by recycling and processing animal fat and used cooking oil.
  • For power stations, B&W have orders in the EU for 45 MW of two-stroke biofuel engines with a thermal efficiency of 51-52%. Specifically, these operate on palm oil of varying quality, and in the future, it is expected that more engines, whether stationary or marine, will be developed to run on biofuels.

·         US DOE has funded five new advanced biomass gasification research and development projects beginning in 2001(Vermont project)

·         2008 – Ford announced a £1 billion research project to convert more of its vehicles to new biofuel sources. The first trial oft, Last year. BP Australia has now sold over 100 million liters of 10% ethanol content fuel to Australian motorists, and Brazil sells both 22% ethanol petrol nationwide and 100% ethanol to over 4 million cars, It is a trend that is gathering momentum.

  • In a program initiated by the Swedish National Board for Industrial and Technical Development in Stockholm, several Swedish universities, companies, and utilities are collaborating to accelerate the demonstration of the advanced EVGT for natural-gas firing, especially in small-scale units. A natural-gas-fired EVGT pilot plant (0.6 megawatts of power output for a simple gas-turbine cycle) should start operation in Lund, Sweden, in 1998.

·         AES Corporation is a leading company in biomass conversion internationally. At AES Kilroot in Northern Ireland, the team recently completed a successful trial to convert the plant to burn a mixture of coal and biomass. With further investment in the technology, nearly half of Northern Ireland’s 2012 renewable target could be met from AES Kilroot alone.

3.2 Aero industry–

  • Virgin Atlantic – Air transport is receiving increasing attention because of environmental concerns linked to CO2 emissions, air quality and noise. Virgin Atlantic in collaboration with Boeing and General Electric aircraft alternative fuels project for aircraft. A successful test flight from London to Amsterdam flight took place on 24th February of this year, running one of the four jumbo jet engines on a mixture of 20% coconut oil and babassu nut oil, with 80% conventional jet fuel. This fuel was specifically chosen due to its performance at low operating temperatures. The test was successful, with no noticeable difference in performance. Except that; imitation that biofuel mix used was in no way sustainable in the quantities required by the demands of the aviation industry. In a way to mitigate this Virgin is looking to us use of Algae based fuels as it is predicted that they may be suitable for use at low temperature.

3.3  Maritime industry 

  • The use of land based transportation, is growing, however the use for sea based transportation need to be explored. Biofuels  for ship will be advantageous. In recent UK pilot project where Buses are run on B100 Argent Energy (UK) Limited is working together with Stagecoach to supply biodiesel made by recycling and processing animal fat and used cooking oil. Marine engines with their inherent lower speed and more tolerant to burning alternative fuels than smaller, higher speed engines tolerance will allow them to run on lower grade and cheaper biofuels.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) unveiled a palm oil-based biodiesel since 2005.Optimistic outcome of the trial made RCCL confident enough to sign a contract in August 2007 for delivery of a minimum 15 million gallons and for the four years after, a minimum of 18 millions gallons of biodiesel for its cruise ships fleet. The contract marked the single largest long-term biodiesel sales contract in the United States.
  • In early 2007, United States Coast Guard indicated that their fleet will augment increase use of biofuels by 15% over the next four years.
  • In the marine industry, beside energy substitute advantage, biolubricants and biodegradable oil  are particularly advantageous from an environmental and pollution perspective. Bio lubrication also offer higher viscosity, flash point and better technical properties such as increased sealing and lower machine operating temperature advantageous use in ship operation.

Time has gone when maritime industry could afford nitty gritty in adopting technology, other industry are already on a fast track preparing themselves technically for evitable changes driven by environmental problem, Global energy demands and political debate add further pressures to find alternative energy especially bio energy  because of hybridization of old and new system advantage it offer. The implication is that shipping could be caught ill prepared for any rapid change in demand or supply of biofuel. Thus this technology is in the early stages of development but the shipping industry need top be prepared for the impacts of its breakthrough because Shipping will eventually required be at the centre of this supply and demand logistics chain again. Table 3 shows the projection for the main present players.

Table3  – projection


Growth (1990-1994)

Projection (2020)

United states






4.0 Sources of biomass

North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) region. Supply has classified biofuel into the following four type’s vizs: agricultural residues, energy crops, forestry residues, and urban wood waste/mill residues. A brief description of each type of biomass is provided below:

  • Agricultural residues from the remaining stalks and biomass material left on the ground can be collected and used for energy generation purposes this include residues of wheat straw and corn stover.
  • Energy crops are produced solely or primarily for use as feedstocks in energy generation processes. Energy crops includes hybrid poplar, and switchgrass, grown on idled, or in pasture, and in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
  • Forestry residues are composed of logging residues, rough rotten salvageable dead wood, and excess small pole trees.
  • Urban wood waste/mill residues are waste woods from manufacturing operations that would otherwise be landfilled. The urban wood waste/mill residue category includes primary mill residues and urban wood such as pallets, construction waste, and demolition debris, which are not otherwise used.

The most important agricultural commodity crops being planted in the United States are listed in Table 4. Corn, wheat, and soybeans represent about 70 percent of total cropland harvested.

Table 6 shows representative characteristics for different subcategories of urban wood waste and mill residues.

5.0 Risk and Uncertainties

Although a significant amount of effort has gone into estimating the available quantities of biomass supply, the following risk and uncertainties that need to be incorporated into design and decision work on biodiesel use are:

  • Risk to land use – Our planet only have 295 land, for example Brazil has some 200 million acres of farmland available, more than the 46 million acres of land,  required to grow the sugarcane needed to satisfy the projected 2022
  • Evolving competing uses of biomass materials, the large market consumption, pricing and growing need.
  • In agricultural waste, the impact of biomass removal on soil quality pose treat to agricultural residues that need to be left on the soil to maintain soil quality could result in significant losses of biomass for electric power generation purposes.
  • Impact of changes in forest fire prevention policies on biomass availability could cause vegetation in forests to minimize the potential for forest fires could significantly increase the quantity of forestry residues available.
  • Potential attempt to recycle more of the municipal solid waste stream might translate into less available biomass for electricity generation.
  • Impact on the food production industry as witness in recent food scarcity crisis

5.1 Regulatory impact


The EU has stated that by 2020 a target of 20% of community wide energy will be renewable. Further to this, all member states are to achieve a mandatory 10% minimum target for the share of biofuels in transport petrol and diesel consumption by 2020.. The legislation provides a phase-in for biofuel blends, including availability of high percentage biofuel blends at filling stations.  The United States Congress passed the Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) in February 2008, which will require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2022. In parallel to this, work is continuing to reduce emissions further in vehicles. Political drivers in Asia vary according to region. In Southeast Asia, the centre of world production for palm oil, coconut oil, and other tropical oils, political support for farming is the key driver.

The issue affecting shipping is whether to refine and use biodiesel locally, or export the unrefined oil for product production elsewhere. In the short term the economics have favored the exports of unrefined oil – which is good news for us. Over the next ten years, with the cost of oil rising, and strict emission reductions in place, the need for increased biofuel production is likely to increase. as well as creating a net positive balance fuel. According to the IEA, world biofuels demand for transport could increase to about 3% of overall world oil demand in 2015 and double by 2030 over the 2008 figure. This does not sound so significant but as we show later it has a significant impact on the specialist fleet capacity demand. As we said before, predicting the trade pattern of biofuels adds a layer of complexity to the overall  nergy supply picture and our oil distribution system.

We also believe that this forecast will be the minimum seen as the political pressures will cause the level to rise beyond 3%. To put the scale in context, the current oil tanker fleet of vessels 10,000 dwt or larger comprises of some 4,600 vessels amounting to 386 million dwt. These include about 2,560 Handysize tankers. Additionally, there are some 4,400 more small tankers from 1,000 to 10,000 dwt accounting for 16 million dwt. Our projections show a significant role for seaborne transport, even using conservative bases with high proportions of locally supplied biofuels. This is a significant fleet segment that poses technical and regulatory challenges. As we have discussed, the requirements cannot be fully defined because many market factors remain uncertain, but ship owners who are building new vessels or operating existing vessels should consider this future trade through flexible design options that we will introduce later.

5.3  Potential Impacts to Shipping


The key political drivers for biofuels are environmental concerns, energy security and agricultural policy. The tonne mile demand for future tankers will be greatly affected by national, regional or global policy and political decision making in these areas. There is a greater flexibility in the sourcing of biofuels than there is in hydrocarbon energy sources and this may be attractive to particular governments. Once the regulatory framework is clear, economics will determine how the regulations will best be met and seaborne trade will be at the centre of the outcome. In many parts of the world, environmental concerns are the leading political driver for biofuels. Reflecting these concerns, the global Kyoto Protocol, was negotiated in 1997, and this further provides a driver for the use of biofuels.

5.4  Shipping Routes and Economics Impacts


The above trend analysis discussed indicate potential capacity requirement from shipping, so far  North America, Europe and South East  Asia are the key importing regions where this growth is concentrated. This includes the Latin American counties of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay and Southeast Asia’s Indonesia and Malaysia will remain key suppliers for the palm oil, Philippines and Papua New Guinea have potentials for vegetable oil and agricultural while Thailand has potential for sugarcane. This trade potential will determine future trade route from Malacca Straits to Europe, ballast to Argentina, to load soybean oil to China, and then make a short ballast voyage to the Malacca Straits, where the pattern begins again, a typical complicated fronthaul / backhaul combinations that can initiate, economies of scale need top reduce freight costs and subsequent push for bigger ship production and short sea services like recent experience of today’s tankers.  According to plateau case study the following regional impact can be deduced for shipping.



North America


33 million tons


ethanol and biodiesel.: 50:50

30 million tons


ethanol and biodiesel.: 50:50

18 million tons

North America demand – policy work support biofuel use in the us and 32 Handysize equivalent tankers will be needed to meet US demand in 2015. with technological breakthrough there will be need for 125 vessel 2030.

European demand – Due to environmental requirement and energy security believed to be politically acceptable in the EU but economics may drive a different outcome.80 Handysizes with some due to the growth in trade and longer voyage distance.  With technological breakthrough for 2nd and 3rd generation biofuel growth will need growing to 145 in 2030 Aframax vessels if the technical issues can be overcome.

Asia demand  – In plateau case  50 Handysize equivalents are required in 2015 and 2030 with forecast vessel sizes being Handysizes with some Panamax vessels 162 vessels total in the three regions.

By adding up all the regions, with biofuels as only 3% of world transport demand, we are looking at a fleet of about 400 Handysize vessels to accommodate the demand and supply drivers by 2030 and 162 by 2015. The total vessel forecast for 2030 could means 2,560 vessels of 81 million deadweight tons.

As regions identify these growth markets and recognize the economies of $/tonne scale that can be achieved, as shown here, with bigger tonnage, we are seeing natural investment occurring. New port developments in concerned trade rout will be required to accommodate large Panamax vessel and parcel size for palm oil exports. on the long haul routes.

5.5  Biomass  Ship Technologies Impacts


A variety of methods could turn an age-old natural resource into a new and efficient means of generating electricity. biomass in large amounts is available in many areas, and is being considered as a fuel source for future generation of electricity. Biomass is by its nature both bulky and widely distributed and electricity from conventional, centralized power plants requires an extensive distribution network. Traditionally power is generated through centralized, conventional power plant, where biomass is transported to the central plant, typically a steam or gas turbine power plant, and the electricity is then distributed through the grid to the end users. Costs include fuel and transportation, power plant construction, maintenance, and operation, and distribution of the electric power, including losses in transmission.

Electrical efficiency



thermal efficiency -40 %

$2,000 per kilowat


45 %

$1,500 per kilowatt,

However, micro-biomass power generators located at the site of end-use seem to offer a path for new solution for energy. Recent development in towards use of micro biomass will equally offer best practice adaptation for marine power. Biomass is used at or near the site of end-use, with heat from external combustion converted directly to electricity by a biomass fired free-piston genset . Costs include fuel and acquisition and maintenance of the genset and burner. Since the electricity is used on site, both transmission losses and distribution costs are minimal. Thus, in areas without existing infrastructure to transmit power, there are no additional costs. In this case it is also possible to cogenerate using the rejected heat for space or hot water heating, or absorption cooling. Previously, option two has not been feasible, since there have been no small (less than ~50 kW) devices for directly and efficiently converting biomass energy to electricity. Micro-biomass power generation is a more cost-effective means of providing power than central biomass power generation. In particular, areas where there is a need for both power and heat – domestic hot water and space heat and absorption chilling – are attractive for cogeneration configurations of this machine. Biomass can be generated using single or ganged free-piston Stirling engines gensets. These micro-biomass generators offer a number of advantages over centralized biomass fueled power plants. They can be placed at the end-user location taking advantage of local fuel prices and do not require a distribution grid. They can directly provide electrical output with integral linear alternators, or where power requirements are larger they can be ganged and drive a conventional rotary turbine. They are hermetically sealed and offer long lives through their non-contact operation.

Biomass for electricity generation is treated in four ways in NEMS: (1) new dedicated biomass or biomass gasification, (2) existing and new plants that co-fire biomass with coal, (3) existing plants that combust biomass directly in an open-loop process,18 and (4) biomass use in industrial cogeneration applications. Existing biomass plants are accounted for using information such as on-line years, efficiencies, heat rates, and retirement dates, obtained through EIA surveys of the electricity generation sector.

Emissions offsets and waste reduction could help enhance the appeal of biomass to utilities  An important consideration for the future use of biomass-fired power plants is the treatment of biomass flue gases. Biomass-combustion flue gases have high moisture content. When the flue gas is cooled to a temperature below the dew point, water vapor starts to condense. By using flue-gas condensation, sensible and latent heat can be recovered for district heating or other heat-consuming processes; this increases the heat generation from a cogeneration plant by more than 30 percent.  Flue-gas condensation not only recovers heat but also captures dust and hazardous pollutants from flue gases at the same time. Most dioxins, chlorine, mercury, and dust are removed, and sulfur oxides are separated out to some extent. Another feature of flue gas condensation is water recovery, which helps solve the problem of water consumption in evaporative gas turbines.

Biomass open door for another way rather than competing with fossil fuel plants a substantial opportunity exists to generate micro-biomass electric power, at power levels from fractions of a kilowatts through to tens or hundreds of kilowatts, at the point of en d use. At these power levels neither small internal combustion engines, which cannot use biomass directly, nor reciprocating steam engines, with low efficiency and limited life, can offer the end user economic electric power. Free-piston Stirling micro biomass engine engines are an economic alternative. Stirling offers the following advantages over significantly larger systems:

  • Stirling machines have reasonable overall efficiencies at moderate heater head temperatures (~600ƒC)
  • cogeneration is simple
  • large amounts of capital do not have to be raised to build a single evaluation plant with its associated technical and economic risks
  • A large fraction of the value of the engine alternator can be reused at the end of its life
  • Stirling systems can be ganged with multiple units operating in parallel.

United States: 1996, P1-R96-STAB-00-NTH (Washington, DC, November 1996). l.

Source by Oladokun Sulaiman

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