Startup climate-tech company, Seabound, is gearing up to help decarbonise the shipping industry – and Crestchic is part of the company’s journey.
The global shipping industry hauls around 1.8 billion metric tons of goods around the world – more than 80% of global trade by volume. In the process, ships emit around 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. With greenhouse gases high on everyone’s agenda, the shipping industry is facing kickback from customers looking to reduce their carbon footprints, along with increasing regulatory pressure.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has mandated that starting in 2023, most commercial vessels will have to document their CO2 emissions and demonstrate progress towards reaching the IMO objective of an industry-wide 40% reduction in emissions by 2030.
While the sector at large is exploring a range of zero-emissions fuels and technologies, including batteries, sustainable biofuels, and green or blue hydrogen and their derivatives such as ammonia and methanol, start-up company Seabound has developed a unique carbon capture device that traps and stores CO2 from fuel exhaust – allowing a significant reduction in emissions.
All hands on deck: The challenge of decarbonising shipping
At present, the shipping sector is highly dependent on heavy fuel oil – a high-carbon fossil fuel. In light of this, decarbonising the current global fleet of approximately 100,000 ships represents a mammoth task – estimated at $1 trillion – consisting of investment in energy-efficient ships as well as a complete overhaul of the industry’s fuel supply chain.
While regulators, industry groups and financial institutions are focussed on reducing emissions, the shipping sector faces some unique challenges. Zero-carbon fuels and technologies are not available at the size, scale, or price the industry needs for wide-scale adoption. According to the International Chamber of Shipping, the sector’s primary trade association “new fuels will need to be developed along with novel propulsion systems, upgraded vessels and an entirely new global refuelling network.”
Seabound: A carbon capture solution
While the industry works on a long-term solution, Seabound has developed technology that can equip ships with carbon capture devices that trap and store CO2 from fuel exhaust. The CO2 can then be brought to port where it can be sold for utilisation or sequestration. As well as enabling the industry to meet stringent targets, the revenue stream made from selling the captured CO2 will be shared with the ship owner, helping to cover implementation costs.
Walker Kehoe, Founding Engineer at Seabound, explains “Building new ships is extremely capital intensive, and the production of sustainable fuels at scale is 10-20 years away. Carbon capture can help to decarbonize shipping quickly and at scale, and it can be retrofitted onto existing ships.”
To test the technology on dry land, the company needed to create and capture CO2. To do this without the need for a marine engine, they hooked the technology up to a diesel generator. A load bank was used to apply a full load to the generator – in turn allowing the generator to run at full capacity and fully test the carbon capture technology.
Usually used to test generators to ensure they are fit for purpose as a backup power source, load banks work by applying an electrical load to a generator, allowing it to run as it would in normal operational conditions. By using the generator and loadbank combination, the team at Seabound was able to simulate a marine engine – enabling full testing of the carbon capture technology.
Walker continued, “Testing our prototype was a critical step in getting the technology launched – leading to expressions of interest from some major shipowners. Our development and testing process has established that Seabound can capture up to 95% of CO2 emissions per ship – helping the industry move towards its targets.”