NYK, Drax and Tsuneishi Partner to Develop 'Bioship' Technology

Leading Japanese companies, NYK Line, NYK Bulk & Projects Carriers, Tsuneishi Shipbuilding,and British renewable energy business, Drax Group,have signed a new memorandum of understanding to develop both the world’s first biomass-fueled ship (bioship) and the technology that could power it.
NYK, Drax and Tsuneishi Partner to Develop

Biomass is playing a growing role in Japan's transition from fossil fuel power generation to low carbon and renewable electricity, and the country's demand for biomass pellets, sourced primarily from North America and composed of sawmill and forestry residues, is increasing.

Drax produces biomass pellets in both the US and Canada. The company has a longstanding relationship with NBP which transports its pellets to Japan.

These pellets are currently shipped through smaller handysize bulkers, which, due to the limited size of their fuel tanks, have proved challenging to switch to lower emission fuels, such as ammonia.

Through the MoU, which was signed at the British Embassy in Tokyo, the companies will initially conduct research to develop the new shipping technology, an on-board biomass fuel plant, which would be required to power a bioship. The companies are exploring how other renewable technologies could be used to reduce both the emissions and fuel costs of shipping biomass.

The biomass fuel plant would use a gasifier to combust biomass at high temperatures and create and contain gases including carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and methane. These gases would then be used to power a generator which could propel the bioship and also provide a proportion of its internal power.

The installation of a biomass fuel plant could see a 22% reduction in well-to-wake carbon emissions in bioships when compared to using fossil fuels. If this development is successful, the companies will jointly study the possibility of building a bioship by the end of 2029.

Shinichi Yanagisawa, Executive Officer of NYK Line, said, "This initiative is part of NYK's long-term target of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gas by 2050 for the NYK Group's oceangoing businesses. The NYK Group is committed to providing its expertise in low-carbon and decarbonized maritime transportation as per this MOU and will utilize the knowledge gained in this research and development to promote initiatives related to various energy-saving technologies."

Paul Sheffield, Drax Group's Chief Commercial Officer, commented. "Drax aims to be carbon negative by 2030 and decarbonizing our supply chain is critical to reaching this goal. This MoU is an important step in the development of the technology required to power and launch the world's first bioship, which will support Drax's decarbonization goals but could also drive the innovation needed to transform shipping and cut carbon emissions and fuel costs in global supply chains."

Kenichi Shibata, Managing Executive Officer of TSUNEISHI SHIPBUILDING, concluded, "Tsuneishi Shipbuilding focuses on reducing the global environmental impact in the design and construction of our vessels and has declared ourselves to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

"We are very proud to be involved in this project, which aims to achieve the world's first maritime transport using wood biomass energy, in collaboration with NYK Line, NYK Bulk & Projects Carriers and Drax Group."

PHOTO: MOU signing ceremony(From left, Kenichi Shibata: Managing Executive Officer/General Manager of Design Division, TSUNEISHI SHIPBUILDING Co., Ltd. Paul Sheffield: Chief Commercial Officer, Drax Group Masashi Suda: President, Chief Executive Officer, NYK Bulk & Projects Carriers Ltd. Shinichi Yanagisawa: Executive Officer, NYK Line)

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