The University of Twente is one of the scientific partners in LNG-ZERO, which is part of the Dutch Maritime Masterplan, a large program towards an emission-free maritime sector. The ambitious research project has recently been granted 4.4 million euros from the Dutch national government.
Pressure on maritime sector
Historically, the Netherlands has been a key player in international maritime trading. This sector alone generates about €7.7 billion per year, representing 3.1% of gross domestic product (GDP). The transport industry, however, is under increasing social and political pressure due to the impact of its carbon emissions on climate change. While the transport industry is responsible for 25 per cent of the global CO2 eq. emissions, the maritime sector has the lowest CO2 footprint per ton of goods transported per kilometre travelled (5-45 g CO2 eq./ton-km). Nevertheless, the maritime sector is responsible for ca. 3 per cent of all CO2 eq. emissions in the planet and current estimates predict that it can increase to 5% if no actions are taken to reduce their emissions.
The challenge is that reducing the C-intensity of maritime vessels is not trivial, as the investments and lifetimes of large freight vessels are significantly larger than other modes of transportation (e.g. cars and trucks). Thus, developing new alternatives to reduce the C-emissions in a scalable and economical manner is strategic for this sector.
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), which is primarily composed of methane, is considered a transition fuel in the shipping industry. The LNG-powered vessels have significant advantages over conventional heavy-fuel ones thanks to the reduced emission of particles after combustion and the potential of replacing non-renewable LNG with bio-gas. In these vessels, it will be necessary to implement carbon capture technologies to reduce CO2 emissions. At the same time, the removal of unconverted methane (CH4 slip) and environmentally unfriendly NOx emissions is also essential to contribute to the energy transition. Technologies to tackle these issues in existing vessels are key in the pathway towards sustainable maritime shipping.
Developing onboard technologies
The Catalytic Processes and Materials (CPM) group and Sustainable Process Technology (SPT) group, from the faculty of Science and Technology (S&T) of the University of Twente, have received a financial contribution of around two million euros to develop onboard technologies for catalytic removal of methane and nitrogen oxide emissions together with deep CO2 capture and storage in Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) powered vessels. This four-year project will bring key innovations developed by the University of Twente over the last few years in emissions control and C-sequestration technology closer to the end-users in the shipping industry. The activities related to the catalytic conversion will be led by Dr Jimmy Faria from the CPM group, in close cooperation with the research tasks on CO2 capture led by Prof.dr.ir. Wim Brilman from the SPT group, and the LNG-ZERO consortium partners.