NSW Maritime warns on ethanol blends in marine engines

On the back of the NSW Government announcing mandatory use of  ethanol blended fuel (previous post) NSW Maritime has released a statement advising all boat owners to check with a local dealer about the suitability of ethanol blend fuels for their marine petrol engines.

NSW Maritime cites the follow risks:

  • Ethanol can affect some fibreglass fuel tanks because of its potential to act as a solvent;
  • Ethanol can affect older fuel lines, seals and gaskets; and
  • The fuel can separate into the petrol and ethanol components if condensation forms in the tank or where the fuel is stored for extended periods.

Whilst some boat owners have tried to do the right thing in their quest to reduce their carbon footprint by choosing the greener option, NSW Maritime advises boat owners to check with their engine and boat dealer about the appropriate fuel choice.

Source: NSW Maritime


Reading: Fuel for thought

While digging around the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) web site I discovered Fuel for thought, a publication by the Future Fuels Forum 2007. This June 2008 publication informs us how the Future Fuels Forum thinks transport fuels will pan out in our future with modelling from now to 2050.  It is an interesting document and I suggest you read it if you are at all interested in the future of transport fuels in Australia. Click the cover page below to download the PDF (1.5Mb).

challenges and opportunities (PDF)

CSIRO 2008: Fuel for thought - The future of transport fuels: challenges and opportunities (PDF)

Apart from being relatively easy to read and informative for those of us without a scientific or economic background it provides great insight into the conservative information upon which our governments are making decisions that impact your future and mine. It isn’t all conservative mind you. The modelling for a continuing rise in demand for oil and a sharp decline in supply shows we could pay as much as $8 per litre for petrol in the not too distant future and the authors do stress the urgency with which alternatives for oil must be found.

While the document was written before the global financial crisis really started to bite the bulk of it remains relevant. If you do read it I’d like to know what you think so please leave a comment.

KTM gets conceptual

KTM in partnership with the FH JOANNEUM Gesellschaft have developed a number of concept vehicles ranging from a four wheel off-roader to a hydrofoil boat. My favourite is the oddly named sr 85 deuce, a light weight electric car that makes an Ariel Atom look positively obese.

KTM sr 85 deuce concept

FH JOANNEUM Gesellschaft: KTM sr 85 deuce concept

You can view all six concepts here.

SkySails to get bigger and better

Now that the MV Beluga SkySails has completed her maiden voyage of 11,952 nautical miles (I was a little bit premature with my previous post) SkySails are talking of fitting kite double the size of the existing 160 square metre item. They are also planning on fitting kites with a sail surface of up to 600 square metres will be used on two larger Beluga P-Series carriers. Currently under construction, these vessels will each have 20,000 tons deadweight.

MV Beluga SkySails maiden voyage

On numerous days during the maiden voyage the system was put in action for periods of between a few minutes and eight hours. During that time the SkySail provided the ship with about 20% of the engine propulsion when it was flown in force 5 winds. When the kite can be flown 24 hours a day in those conditions it will save the MV Beluga SkySails about 2.5 tons of fuel, or more than $1,000, a day.

Captain Lutz Heldt returned from the two month maiden voyage to say:

We can once again actually ‘sail’ with cargo ships, thus opening a new chapter in the history of commercial shipping.

With the maiden voyage MV Beluga SkySails has commenced a 12 month pilot testing phase. The first six months will be spent calibrating and stabilising the kite system. The second half of the pilot phase will focus on extending the flight times and improving performance.

Source: SkySails

The Cleanest Ship Project shows shipping emissions can be drastically reduced

The Cleanest Ship Project is proving that the application of higher specification fuel and exhaust treatment solutions can drastically reduce shipping emissions. While this sounds like common sense the Cleanest Ship Project is the first time I’ve heard of it being put into practice.

The ship that has undergone modification is the MV Victoria. She is a motor tank vessel owned by BP and operates in the inland waterways in the Port of Rotterdam and Antwerp areas.

Motor Vessel Victoria

The emission reduction techniques utilized on the project are the Advising Tempomaat (ATM) economy optimisation system (Techno Fysica), low sulphur fuel, selective catalytic reduction and particulate matter filters.

The ATM advises the skipper on the most economical combination of route and speed, enabling the vessel to arrive on time with a most efficient use of fuel.

The low sulphur fuel equal to European road standard diesel and is a precondition for application of particulate matter filters and efficient reduction of SOX emissions, which are directly related to the sulphur content of the fuel.

The Nauticlean S system (Hug Engineering) combines a soot filter and a selective catalytic reduction system in the same reactor. The filter is equipped with a diesel full-flow regenerative burner.

Expected savings per year:

Fuel consumption 7%
Production of CO2 7%
Production of SOx 99%
Production of NOx 92%
Production of PM 98%

The ongoing results can be viewed here. At the time of writing the ATM was not reporting CO2 emissions but the savings in the other categories are impressive.

Source: Cleanest Ship Project via EU

MV Beluga Skysails completes her maiden voyage

In December 2007 I wrote that the MV Beluga Skysails (previous post) had been officially launched in Hamburg, Germany. I am pleased to say that the kite assisted ship has completed her maiden voyage from Germany to Venezuala. MV Beluga Skysails was due in port in Venezuala on 05 Feb 08.

Reuters are reporting she recorded fuel savings of between 10 and 15 percent during parts of its voyage across the Atlantic. The computer-guided kite system was only fully deployed after it experienced trade winds near the Azores. The 10 to 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption amounts to savings of between $1,000 and $1,500 per day. Once the bugs have been ironed out and the crew’s expertise with the €500,000 system improves, fuel savings are projected to be up to 20 percent.

Source: Reuters

New Zealand seeks input on sustainable transport paper

The New Zealand has published a discussion paper on sustainable transport. In the paper they outline a number of targets for improving the sustainability of New Zealand transport and are now seeking responses.

Here is a summary of the targets proposed:

Government agreed high-level outcome target for 2040

  • halve per capita domestic greenhouse gas transport emissions

Proposed additional high-level outcome targets for 2040

  • travel times by all modes will be predictable
  • travel times by principal routes to be improved relative to 2007 for identified critical intra and inter-regional connections, as determined with each region.
  • all individuals have access to the facilities and activities they need, such as work, education, medical care and shopping centres, to participate in society
  • public health effects of transport to be at accepted international standard
  • local environmental impacts of transport (including air and water quality) to be at accepted international standard
  • operate to world best-practice safety standards for all modes of transport

Government agreed intermediate or detailed target for 2040

  • become one of the first countries in the world to widely deploy electric vehicles
  • a biofuels sales obligation that will begin at a level of 0.53 percent from 2008, increasing to 3.4 percent of annual petrol and diesel sales by 2012
  • reduce the kilometres travelled by single occupancy vehicles in major urban areas on weekdays by ten percent per capita by 2015 compared to 2007

Proposed additional intermediate or detailed targets for 2040

  • identify and remove any barriers to the uptake of plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles that meet appropriate safety standards
  • effective real-time information systems in place to enable road users to plan their journeys to avoid congestion, minimising delay and fuel wastage, by 2015
  • road deaths no more than 200 per annum
  • over 40 percent of the light vehicle fleet to have four star or better4 occupant protection (currently ten to 15 percent) by 2015 and 90 percent by 2040
  • over 25 percent of light vehicles to have electronic stability control (currently less than five percent) by 2015 and 95 percent by 2040
  • lift coastal shipping’s share of inter-regional freight to around 30 percent (currently about 15 percent of tonne-kilometres)
  • lift rail’s share of domestic freight to around 25 percent (currently about 18 percent of tonne-kilometres)
  • increase the public transport mode share of peak hour travel (journeys to work) in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch from an average of nine percent to 20 percent and work with each region to optimise peak hour travel targets
  • at least double the overall public transport mode share to seven percent of all passenger trips (currently about two to three percent)
  • increase walking and cycling and other “active modes” to 30 percent of total trips in urban areas (currently about 17 percent)
  • ensure a substantial reduction in premature deaths and serious illnesses arising from air pollution from motor vehicles
  • manage noise to minimise any public health effects
  • no net loss of indigenous vegetation or fauna from infrastructure construction or maintenance

Government agreed targets to reduce harmful emissions from cars and trucks

  • reduce the rated Co2 emissions per kilometre of combined average new and used vehicles entering the light vehicle fleet to 170 grams Co2 per kilometre by2015 (currently around 220 grams Co2 per kilometre), with a corresponding reduction in average fuel used per kilometre
  • ensure 80 percent of the vehicle fleet is capable of using at least a ten percent blend of bio-ethanol or bio-diesel, or is electric powered, by 2015

Proposed additional targets to further reduce harmful emissions from cars and trucks

  • thirty-five percent of the vehicle fleet to have emissions technology consistent with Euro 46 (or equivalent) standard by 2015
  • imported used petrol, LPG, CNG and diesel vehicles (light and heavy) are to be of Euro 4 (or equivalent) standard by 2012
  • imported new petrol, LPG, CNG and diesel vehicles (light and heavy) are to be of Euro 4 (or equivalent) standard by 2009

This is the first time I’ve seen targets laid out so prescriptively. Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places. Anyway, good on New Zealand for putting their targets in the public arena for comment. Now that Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol I hop we will be brave enough to do the same. Soon!

For those interested in responding please fill out this submission form and return to:


or post to:

Sustainable Transport
Ministry of Transport
PO Box 3175
Wellington 6140

The cut-off date for submissions is Friday 15 February 2008.