Environmental assessment of present and future marine fuels
Doktorsavhandling, 2014

Our globalised world is connected by shipping, an industry powered by one of heaviest and dirtiest products of refining: heavy fuel oil. Tougher environmental regulations are now challenging the industry to take action. Ship-owners and operators are faced with the choice of installing exhaust gas cleaning technologies or switching to a different fuel altogether. The primary purpose of this thesis was to assess the environmental performance of present and future marine fuels and to evaluate potential methods and tools for their assessment. Two different system approaches are used in this study: life cycle assessment (LCA) and global energy systems modelling. LCA is a well-established method for assessing the environmental performance of fuels. This type of assessment was complemented with the use of the Global Energy Transition (GET) model to investigate cost-effective fuel choices based on a global stabilisation of CO2 emissions and the global competition for primary energy sources. The GET model includes all energy sectors and considers the interactions among them, but it is limited in scope to CO2 emissions and costs. The LCAs involve a holistic systems perspective that includes the entire life cycle and various types of environmental impacts, but they are limited to analyses of one product or service at a time. These methods provide insights that are both contradictory and complementary. This study concludes that there is substantial potential for reducing the environmental impact of shipping through a change in fuel types and/or the use of exhaust abatement technologies. A switch from heavy fuel oil to any of the alternatives investigated in this study reduces the overall environmental impact of marine fuels. The GET model indicates that it is cost-effective to phase out the use of crude oil-based fuels in the shipping sector and replace these fuels with the use of natural gas-based fuels during the next few decades. Based on the LCA results, the use of biofuels may be one possible way to reduce the impact of shipping on the climate, but biofuels may only be a cost-effective fuel in shipping if the corresponding annual available bioenergy resources are sufficiently large. Three important implications are highlighted: the importance of reducing the NOX emissions from marine engines, the need to regulate the methane slip from gas engines and the fact that a change in fuels may not reduce the impact of shipping on the climate.

Hörsal ALFA, hus SAGA på Campus Lindholmen, Göteborg
Opponent: Professor Annik Magerholm Fet

Författare

Selma Brynolf

Chalmers, Sjöfart och marin teknik, Maritime Operations

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Our globalised world is connected by shipping, an industry powered by one of the heaviest and dirtiest products of crude oil refining: heavy fuel oil. This fuel contains more than 1000 times the amount of sulphur allowed in diesel fuel for cars. Tougher environmental regulations are now challenging the industry to become cleaner and thereby improve our health and the environment. Ship-owners and operators are faced with the choice of installing technologies for cleaning exhaust gas or switching to a different fuel altogether. This thesis assesses the environmental impact of present and future marine fuels to help policy makers, ship-owners, operators and other actors make decisions in selecting the best fuel. The environmental impacts from the mining of raw materials and through production and distribution and the combustion in marine engines for propulsions of goods and passengers are evaluated using life cycle assessment. Ten fuels produced from three types of raw materials (crude oil, natural gas and biomass) are compared. This comparison is complemented with the use of a global energy systems model that evaluates the fuels that are the most cost effective for use in a carbon-constrained world.

Styrkeområden

Transport

Energi

Ämneskategorier

Annan naturresursteknik

Energisystem

Marin teknik

Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie

Utgivare

Chalmers tekniska högskola

Hörsal ALFA, hus SAGA på Campus Lindholmen, Göteborg

Opponent: Professor Annik Magerholm Fet