A comparative life cycle assessment of marine fuels: liquefied natural gas and three other fossil fuels
Journal article, 2011

Air emissions from shipping have received attention in recent years and the shipping industry is striving for solutions to reduce their emissions and to comply with stricter regulations. Strategies to reduce emissions can consist of a fuel switch, engine changes, or end-ofpipe technologies, but they do not necessarily imply reduced life cycle emissions. The present paper assesses the environmental performance of marine fuels from well-to-propeller using life cycle assessment (LCA). Four fossil fuels are compared: heavy fuel oil (HFO), marine gas oil, gas-to-liquid (GTL) fuel, and liquefied natural gas (LNG), combined with two exhaust abatement techniques: open-loop scrubber and selective catalytic reduction. LNG and other alternatives that comply with the SECA 2015 and Tier III NOx requirements give decreased acidification and eutrophication potentials with 78–90 per cent in a life cycle perspective compared with HFO. In contrast, the use of LNG does not decrease the global warming potential by more than 8–20 per cent, the amount depending mainly on the magnitude of the methane slip from the gas engine. None of the fossil fuels scrutinized here would decrease the greenhouse gas emissions significantly from a life cycle perspective. The study supports the need for LCA when evaluating the environmental impact of a fuel change, e.g. it is found that the highest global warming potential during the whole life cycle is connected to the alternatives with GTL fuel.

Marine fuels

liquefied natural gas

marine gas oil


heavy fuel oil


Selma Bengtsson

Sustainable ship propulsion

Karin Andersson

Sustainable ship propulsion

Erik Fridell

Sustainable ship propulsion

Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part M: Journal of Engineering for the Maritime Environment

1475-0902 (ISSN)

Vol. 225 2 97-110

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance



Subject Categories

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Sciences



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