Brazilian ethanol maker Raizen and Finnish maritime energy company Wartsila have joined forces to investigate the use of ethanol as an alternative fuel for cargo ships, aiming to reduce carbon emissions in the shipping industry.

The study results are expected to determine the feasibility of selling ethanol for maritime use, with potential sales anticipated within a year if positive outcomes are achieved. Raizen’s Vice President of Trading, Paulo Neves, expressed optimism about the potential market, highlighting that “the market is huge.”

Raizen already produces various types of ethanol, and minimal adjustments to their existing production processes would enable them to adapt the fuel for this new application. In the event that sales commence within a year, Raizen anticipates no issues in scaling up production to meet the increased demand.

Furthermore, Raizen has been investing in new technologies and expanding facilities to boost ethanol production by up to 50% without requiring additional land for growing sugar cane. Additionally, Brazil is exploring alternative raw materials such as corn to further enhance ethanol production.

The joint study conducted by Raizen and Wartsila aims to test ethanol as a viable fuel for vessel engines, which can already run on methanol or diesel fuel. Wartsila’s Vice President of Supply for Marine Power, Stefan Nysjo, mentioned that dual fuel engines are already in operation and integral to many new vessel orders. Moreover, older ships can also be retrofitted with these engines, thus enabling their use of ethanol.

Reducing carbon emissions is a key objective for Wartsila, and the incorporation of ethanol as a maritime fuel aligns with their broader commitment to sustainable solutions. As the majority of current maritime fuels are heavy oil-based, ethanol offers a viable replacement for fossil fuels.

Nysjo emphasized that the future lies in diversification, stating that “we’re not expecting that ethanol will be the only answer… the future will be very diverse in this area, and we believe that ethanol has a future in that mix.”

It’s evident that Raizen and Wartsila’s collaboration holds significant potential for revolutionizing the maritime industry by introducing ethanol as a clean and sustainable fuel source for cargo ships.

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