Long-distance transport by sea currently accounts for between 80 and 90 per cent of all global trade. This vessel is moored in Rotterdam. Stock photo: AlbertPego/iStock

Bulk carriers can also be green

Research scientists from 16 countries are joining forces to make a bulk carrier climate neutral – all with the help of a new power train.

Long-distance transport by sea accounts for between 80 and 90 per cent of all global trade. The enormous cargoes being transported across the world’s oceans in bulk carriers demand huge volumes of fuel, most of which are fossil fuels.

The potential for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by switching to greener fuels is thus very great.  For this reason, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set itself the target of reducing GHG emissions in the maritime sector to net zero by 2050. 

SINTEF in Norway is currently participating in a new EU-funded innovation project called GAMMA that may be able to contribute towards establishing a sustainable energy system for the shipping sector. The project was launched in January 2024, involving 16 European companies and research centres.

The aim of the project is to remodel a bulk carrier to enable it to run on climate-neutral fuels. A key task will be to install a new fuel system that will convert ammonia and green methanol into hydrogen. The vessel will employ fuel cell technology to generate electricity from the fuel, and some of the energy needed to manufacture the hydrogen will be generated by solar energy.

SINTEF will be participating in the development and implementation of a hybrid power train, consisting of biofuels and fuel cells, combined with batteries.

The GAMMA project has a budget of EUR 17 million and is being headed by the Icelandic engineering company Verkís.

About the GAMMA project:

GAMMA stands for ‘Green AMmonia and biomethanol fuel MAritime vessels’. The project is being funded via the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA).

The 16 project partners include industrial companies and research centres from a number of different European countries. As well as developing and testing the technology, the project will also be evaluating the innovative fuel chain and total CO2 emissions.

Project partners:

  • Verkís (Iceland)
  • ANT Topic (Italy)
  • Fraunhofer (Germany)
  • Aurelia (Netherlands)
  • Ballard (Denmark)
  • Sea Green Engineering (Italy)
  • Energy Cluster Denmark
  • SINTEF (Norway)
  • Solbian (Italy)
  • Amethyste (France)
  • Elkon Elektrik (Turkey)
  • Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
  • ARM Engineering (France)
  • RINA (Germany)
  • Amnis Pura (Portugal)
  • Dotcom (Italy)