Rio Tinto and BP announce extended marine biofuel trial


Rio Tinto and BP have agreed to collaborate on a one-year biofuel trial with a view to decreasing carbon emissions from Rio Tinto’s marine fleet.

BP is supplying Rio Tinto with marine biofuel for around a year as part of the study. In one of the longest-duration marine biofuel trials to date, the fuel will be tested on Rio Tinto’s RTM Tasman vessel on a mix of Transatlantic and Atlantic-Pacific routes.

Rio Tinto Head of Commercial Operations, Laure Baratgin said the results of the trial would help Rio Tinto study ways to reduce its carbon emissions from its marine fleet and inform its future biofuel strategy.

“Sustainable biofuels have the potential to be an important transition fuel on the way to net-zero marine emissions and we are pleased to be working with bp to carry out this long-term trial,” Ms Baratgin continued.

“A longer-duration trial will provide important information on the potential role and wide scale use of biofuels, and aligns with our goals to reduce marine emissions across our value chain and support efforts to decarbonise the maritime industry.

“Our ambition is to reach net-zero emissions from shipping of our products to customers by 2050 and to introduce net-zero carbon vessels into our portfolio by 2030. We know that we won’t meet these ambitions alone and along the way will need to work with capable and experienced companies such as bp.”

The extended trial comes after RTM Tasman’s successful journey which saw the bulk carrier refuel with biofuel in Rotterdam in March 2022 for the first time before picking up its first cargo of the trial at the Iron Ore Company of Canada’s Sept-Îles port in Quebec in April.

The pilot is using a B30 biofuel blend made by BP that contains 30% fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) and very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO).

“When compared to regular marine fuel oil, this B30 biofuel blend can cut lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by up to 26%,” Rio Tinto said in a statement.

“FAME is a renewable alternative fuel (biodiesel) largely produced from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources.

“It has physical properties similar to conventional diesel, and is a ‘drop in fuel’, requiring no modifications to the engine or vessel.

“The origination and production of the feedstocks used to produce the FAME is certified for its sustainability to internationally recognized standards.

The study will examine a variety of engine and fuel performance aspects, including engine efficiency and fuel consumption, corrosion and degradation, microbiological development, temperature impact, fuel switching impacts, and fuel stability.

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