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The Unifeeder-operated vessel ElbBlue was today (29 September) bunkered with liquefied synthetic natural gas (SNG) for a trial voyage, marking the world’s-first trial of the fuel for the maritime industry, according to the shortsea shipping company.

The trial is the result of a joint collaboration between MAN Energy Solutions, Elbdeich Reederei, LIQUIND Marine, Wessels Marine, and Kiwi.

The liquefied SNG, produced at Kiwi’s Power-to-Gas facility in Werlte, Germany is a synthetic form of LNG that is carbon-neutral and generated from 100% renewable energy.

With a blend of 20 tonnes SNG and 20 tonnes conventional LNG, the ElbBlue is expected to save approximately 56 tonnes of carbon output on its coming voyage to St. Petersburg compared to when operating on 100% LNG.

As previously reported, in 2017, the ElbBlue - then named Wes Amelie - was retrofitted as dual-fuel engine made by MAN Energy Solutions to be able to operate on LNG.

Should the trial be successful, it is hoped that renewable SNG and dual-fuel engines can be used to reduce the shipping industry’s carbon output.

‘A successful trial voyage will complement our environmental initiatives across Europe, such as our investment in more efficient rail and barge inland services, as well as our ongoing sustainability ambitions at our terminals across Europe,’ said Jesper Kristensen, CEO Unifeeder and COO DP World Marine Services.

Timm Niebergall, Shortsea Director Unifeeder, added: ‘This is a great opportunity to showcase new fuel technology and we are proud to be at the forefront of this exciting development. As the leading operator of feeder and shortsea services in Europe and around the globe, the future availability of green(er) fuels is essential. Our customers in Europe and beyond are expecting innovative solutions for improving our, and thereby also their, carbon footprint.

‘In short, synthetic LNG is an exciting product and we are therefore very proud to be the first operator testing this new fuel on one of our vessels.’

Stefan Eefting – Senior Vice President and Head of MAN PrimeServ, Augsburg, said: ‘This is a crucial step on the road to decarbonising shipping. In reducing or even eliminating future emissions generated by the global supply chain, synthetic fuels and engine retrofits have a crucial role to play.

‘While a retrofit instantly reduces a ship’s emission levels, synthetic fuels like SNG can enable it to run 100% climate-neutrally. Today, we are demonstrating that any LNG-retrofitted ship can also run on fuels generated by power-to-X technology, and even as a mix of fuels depending on availability.’

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