Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL; President & CEO: Takeshi Hashimoto) and Air Water Inc. (Air Water; Chairman, CEO: Kikuo Toyoda) today announced the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly study the trial use of liquefied bio-methane (LBM) (Note 1) derived from cattle manure, in LNG fueled vessels.
This joint study will be conducted as part of an LBM technology research and development program approved by Japan's Ministry of the Environment (Note 2) and promoted by Air Water. LBM is produced from cattle manure in the Tokachi region of Hokkaido by Air Water. The two companies will confirm that LBM can be transported, supplied, and used without problems using existing shore and onboard equipment. The goal is to use LBM on the MOL Group's coastal LNG fueled vessel in the first half of FY2023. This will be the first use of LBM as marine fuel in Japan.
MOL is moving toward decarbonization to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and shifting to greener alternative fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen according to the strategy "MOL Group Environmental Vision 2.1". On the other hand, since the introduction of LNG fueled vessels is an effective way to achieve low carbon emissions in this early stage, MOL is accelerating the deployment of LNG fueled vessels while taking initiatives aimed at early introduction of the use of bio-methane and synthetic-methane.
LNG fuel is expected to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by about 25% compared to conventional fuel oil, but further reduction of CO2 emissions can be expected through the partial use of LBM, a carbon-neutral energy source. In addition, because the main component of both LBM and LNG is methane, the current LNG supply chains can be used, so LBM can be an effective solution to achieve low-carbon and decarbonized ship operations.
Air Water is committed to creating decarbonization solutions and sustainable, locally circulating energy supply models. In October 2022, the company started operation of the first plant in Japan to produce LBM, an alternative fuel to LNG that effectively uses unused biogas produced from cattle manure. It is also working on supplying LBM to food factories and LNG fueled trucks.
In the future, MOL and Air Water will contribute to the development of low-carbon and decarbonized ocean transport by leveraging each other's knowledge and experiences in the use of LBM as marine fuel.
(Note 1) LBM is made by liquefying bio-methane at about -160°C generated from dairy-owned biogas plants, separating and refining its main component, methane. Methane can be compressed to 1/600th of its volume by liquefying it, so this enables the mass transportation of methane. It is also a carbon-neutral domestic energy source because it is made from cattle manure.