How Marine Biofuels Can Help Shipping Grow

How Marine Biofuels Can Help Shipping Grow
(AP Foto/Matt Rourke)
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Online shopping and shipping increased in the past year. Global health concerns kept individuals out of stores and housebound. A recent political transition places a strain on our new way of consuming.

On his first day in office, President Biden signed the U.S. onto the Paris Agreement. Our national commitment to climate change prevention is unaligned with our newfound 'two-day shipping' mentality. Fortunately, renewable energy offers a sustainable solution to the high emission transportation industry.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction

The Paris Agreement signifies our commitment to limiting global warming by two degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels. We can achieve the goal by establishing current greenhouse gas emissions as peak levels, adopting reduction methods now. Carbon neutrality is possible when using renewable power sources.

Nearly 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions derive from the shipping industry. The industry is growing by 5% annually, posing adverse effects on the environment. Professionals predict a 1.48 billion metric ton carbon emission increase without sustainable changes.

Marine shipping companies look to align their values with the Paris Agreement, using biofuel. Various fuel types reduce emissions, like corn ethanol biomass which releases 52% less carbon than conventional gas. Sugarcane ethanol reduces air pollution production by 78%, and cellulosic biofuel limits emissions by 86%. 

Biofuel generates a cyclical intake and output process with carbon dioxide. Their plant origins absorb and filter localized emissions in the production phase. When burned for power, biofuel releases less carbon than they absorb.

The carbon neutrality of biofuel makes it an optimal power source for marine shipping. It is also a renewable energy source, limiting global resource exploitation.

Sulfur Reduction

The marine shipping industry identified the adverse environmental and human health effects caused by conventional fueling methods. They initiated a sulfur reduction regulation, pushing companies to use alternative power sources. The new rule limits the sulfur content in shipping fuel to 0.50% mass by mass.

Previously, the sulfur limit was 3.5%, and companies struggled to maintain regulatory levels. Biofuel provides a sustainable solution for emission reduction and the protection of human health. Current sulfur emissions cause lung, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in individuals working on ships or living by ports.

The continued use of conventional fuel sources would place limitations on the shipping industry's growth. Utilizing sustainably sourced biofuel can improve the planet's health and expand transportation capabilities in an eco-conscious world.

Biofuel Options

Recent advancements in the biofuel industry provide options for low sulfur and greenhouse gas-emitting shipping. The ZyloCell uses dry cellulose, producing ethanol from corn kernels. It converts the kernel fibers into fermentable sugars for fuel.

The new biofuel product increases the quantity of available ethanol for the marine shipping industry. It also has a long, stable shelf life, lasting about a year. The fuel option requires no refrigeration and comes in a dry powder form for optimal long-term storage.

Another biofuel advancement led to algae-generated clean energy. Researchers at Friat University in Turkey discovered the multi-anode sediment microbial fuel cell properties of aquatic plant matter. Current production uses algae for electricity generation, and future development shows promising potential for shipping fuel.

We can develop a purely sustainable fuel source when eliminating the fossil fuels used in biofuel production. Many companies are using renewable energy, powering the necessary farming equipment for crop growth. When we optimize renewably powered biofuel development efficiency, other industries can utilize its power for expansion.

Planes are other devices heavily utilized by the shipping industry. Smaller jets burn five gallons of greenhouse gas-emitting fuel every mile. Cargo planes release ecologically harmful quantities of pollution, making biofuel a sustainable option for emission reduction.

The Growing Industry

The Amazon shipping company has over 200 million active Prime members. Society is getting used to shipping their products rather than getting them from the store. Meeting consumer demands and the goal of the Paris Agreement requires shipping companies to adopt biofuel energy.

There is a vast quantity of biofuel on Earth because of its renewable nature. As long as the sun is shining and plants are growing, the marine shipping industry can access clean energy.

Supporting Expansion

Many shipping companies are starting to integrate biofuel energy into their shipping practices. Consumers can support the industry's transition toward clean power by purchasing goods transported with biofuels. When we establish an eco-consumer demand for shipping companies, they must alter their procedures to remain competitive in their field.  


Jane Marsh works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

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