Northern Ireland’s B9 Shipping, a developer of 100% renewable powered cargo ships, is planning to set sail with a new ship in 2012, according to a Cleantech report. About 60 per cent of the thrust will come from conventional soft sails and, in calm conditions or to manoeuvre in port, a carbon neutral bio-methane engine will be used, the fuel for which would come from the anaerobic digestion of food waste. “We’re aiming to have our first ship in the water in 2012 to be ready for the first of the biomass power stations coming online in England,” said David Surplus, managing director of B9 Shipping and chairman of B9 Energy Group.
The first vessel would be able to accommodate 3,000 tons of biomass material and travel as far as 1,000 miles. To store sufficient fuel onboard, the company plans to liquefy the methane component of the biogas. It is collaborating with project partner Rolls-Royce Motor Cars on the spark ignition engines designed for liquefied natural gas (LNG).
B9 Shipping has suggested that a successful demonstration of the first vessel could stimulate growth into a fleet upward of 50 ships.
Surplus said that in the USA, his company is also in discussions with an undisclosed Manhattan company, which is active in waste management, about tapping into some of the organic waste streams in the New York City area. The companies are reportedly interested in jointly bidding on an RFP (request for proposal) in New York early next year to take food waste and convert it to methane. It could initially be for as much as 30,000 tons of waste a year, which would provide enough fuel for four ships, Surplus said.
B9 Shipping’s goal is to identify innovative, practical, low carbon, affordable, commercially viable proven solutions to create sailing motor coasters for use in European waters, to assist small island economies adapt to and mitigate against climate change and to service the world market for zero emission small cargo ships. The anaerobic digestion technology that provides the bio-methane to power the engine will be part of a technology transfer package B9 Shipping will make available to these localities and to other interested parties.