Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emission Assessment for Using Alternative Marine Fuels: A Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Case Study


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set decarbonisation goals for the shipping industry. As a result, shipowners and operators are preparing to use low- or zero-carbon alternative fuels. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emission performances are fundamental for choosing suitable marine fuels. However, the current regulations adopt tank-to-wake (TTW) emission assessment methods that could misrepresent the total climate impacts of fuels. To better understand the well-to-wake (WTW) GHG emission performances, this work applied the life cycle assessment (LCA) method to a very large crude carrier (VLCC) sailing between the Middle East and China to investigate the emissions. The life cycle GHG emission impacts of using alternative fuels, including liquified natural gas (LNG), methanol, and ammonia, were evaluated and compared with using marine gas oil (MGO). The bunkering site of the VLCC was in Zhoushan port, China. The MGO and LNG were imported from overseas, while methanol and ammonia were produced in China. Four production pathways for methanol and three production pathways for ammonia were examined. The results showed that, compared with MGO, using fossil energy-based methanol and ammonia has no positive effect in terms of annual WTW GHG emissions. The emission reduction effects of fuels ranking from highest to lowest were full solar and battery-based methanol, full solar and battery-based ammonia, and LNG. Because marine ammonia-fuelled engines have not been commercialised, laboratory data were used to evaluate the nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. The GHG emission reduction potential of ammonia can be exploited more effectively if the N2O emitted from engines is captured and disposed of through after-treatment technologies. This paper discussed three scenarios of N2O emission abatement ratios of 30%, 50%, and 90%. The resulting emission reduction effects showed that using full solar and battery-based ammonia with 90% N2O abatement performs better than using full solar and battery-based methanol. The main innovation of this work is realising the LCA GHG emission assessment for a deep-sea ship.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways

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