Carbon Free From Stem to Stern: B9 Shipping Runs on Wind, Biomass

Here's the cargo ship to catch a ride on if you want to reduce your carbon footprint: B9 Shipping is building a wind-powered freighter to transport wood chips and biomass. The 3000 DWT ship is 100 meters in length and will be powered by a mix of 60% wind and 40% liquified methane produced from biogas running in Rolls Royce engines designed for liquified natural gas. EcoGeek tells us they are part of B9 Energy, the largest independent operator of wind farms in the UK.

But wait, there's more: the hulls are made from "recycled steel, melted down by the heat from torrified wood, which releases virtually no fossil carbon into the atmosphere." So there isn't even much carbon dioxide produced building the ship.

Earlier sloop rig design

Torrefied wood is heated to between 230 and 300 degrees Celsius, to where the cellulose decomposes. According to biofiber business:

Torrefied wood pellets produce more energy per unit by volume than conventional wood pellets, and can be readily co-fired with coal without the need for retrofitting or altering the ovens in any way. It has even been suggested that torrefied pellets could eventually replace coal, allowing power plants to become entirely "green power" facilities. Rather than shutting down "dirty" coal plants, operators could simply add torrefied pellets to the normal coal load, until they are able to replace coal altogether.

The boats will have an economic range of about a thousand miles, and are intended to be commercially competitive with conventional oil powered vessels. Right now they are going for the biomass biz. Managing director David Surplus says:

"We needed to have a niche market to trade in. Biomass is going to be very big in the UK with 30 million tonnes a year being imported."

They are also building the ships in the old ship building areas of the UK, creating new jobs in a very old industry. B9 sees the ships as a way to:

create sailing motor coasters for use in European waters, to assist small island economies adapt to and mitigate against climate change and to service the world market for zero emission small cargo ships.

I would have thought that the LNG/ liquid methane powered engines were a little over the top for that. Wouldn't biodiesel have been a bit simpler?

More at EcoGeek B9 Shipping and Cleantech

Tags: Transportation | United Kingdom | Wind Power


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