Fossil Free Fuels: Markets and measures - developments in sustainable biofuels for transportation

On the 21st of January, f3, Chalmers, and SICEC co-arranged the full-day seminar “Fossil free fuels: Markets and measures” in Gothenburg. The seminar gave an update on current developments in sustainable biofuels for transportation and attracted approximately 130 participants from universities, research institutes and industry all over Sweden. Customizing the smell of gasoline and using methanol for maritime transport were some of the topics discussed during the day.
The seminar was divided into three sessions:
  • Markets for fossil free fuels - technology and market conditions
  • Policy and renewable transportation fuels for global sustainability
  • Research and innovation - the international perspective
In the morning session, the keynote speaker Dr Michael Boot (left picture) from Eindhoven University, talked about customized fuels which he had tested in his motor lab. He currently focuses on aromatics derived from lignin (one of the major residues from forestry). Aromatics have a pleasant scent, as they are the same molecules found in soaps, shampoos and perfumes. At the incorporation of these new fuels in gasoline one could “scent design” gasoline so that it smells of rose, vanilla, jasmine, etc.
 
Martin Tunér from the Competence Center Combustion Processes (KCFP) at Lund University presented a literature review he has done in an f3 and SICEC collaboration project on the topic of combustion technology developments for renewable transportation fuels. From the 250 reviewed publications he had compared how well the different fuels and combustion concepts performed regarding efficiency and emissions. Potential large markets for renewable fuels are the shipping and aviation sectors that face difficulties utilizing other renewable options, such as electricity and hydrogen, to propel their engines.
 
Per Stefenson from Stena Rederi AB presented their work towards using methanol for maritime transport, where the large ship Stena Germanica will be converted during February 2015 and thereafter 24 other Stena ships, as a positive outcome. Maria Gelin from Swedavia presented ongoing projects regarding renewable fuels for aviation. A range of large airline companies are currently testing different biofuel options in their aircraft engines.
 
The afternoon sessions included presentations that were more oriented towards policy and social factors as driving forces in relation to the use of fossil free transportation fuels.
 
Per Erlandsson from Lantmännen Energi AB talked about the current status of the Swedish policy for renewable transportation fuels, and how the suggested combined quota and tax relief system was withdrawn one month before planned implementation. He then made an overview of the reasons for withdrawal, explained the relations between Swedish and EU regulation, and presented necessary considerations before a new policy system is put forward.
 
In a previous project within f3, Elisabeth Ekener Petersen from KTH compared potential social and socioeconomic impacts from eight different transportation fuels according to the Social Hotspot Database in which risks were identified in social categories, such as human and labor rights, health and governance. The potential risk impacts were rated low, medium, high or very high. Elisabeth Ekener Petersen presented the outcome of the project as numbers of risks per product system, and concluded for example that country of origin may be of bigger social importance than type of fuel, and that there are good reasons to develop policies for social performance for all vehicle fuels, including fossil fuels.
 
From Chalmers, Martin Persson presented his review project on the linkages between biofuels, food prices and poverty, overviewing the lively debate on the use of arable land. He explained that price impact on agricultural land is affected by the intensity of a demand shock and the potential responsiveness to it, and concluded that there is evidence that biofuel demands contribute to raised prices for agricultural commodities. This mainly affects the world’s poor but focusing on biofuel feedstock that demands less land, exploiting marginal land and investing in agricultural development in poor regions could temper the poverty impacts.
 
In order to realize the vision of competitive biorefineries in Sweden, there is a need for an implementation strategy. This is the focus of the work of Hans Hellsmark, SP, presented at the seminar by Johanna Mossberg. Hellsmark has identified the implications for deployment of a new type of industry, i.e. thermochemical, biochemical and chemical conversion of forest lignocellulose residues to produce transportation fuels and other chemicals, by using the TIS analysis approach. TIS stands for Technological Innovation Systems and is a non-linear approach for analysis of technology development that can be used for identifying the need for action in technological areas of priority. This type of approach is important to bridge the gap between traditional R&D and general (”technology neutral”) policy instruments.
 
Research on regional and local authorities as driving forces for renewable fuels was presented by Jenny Palm, Linköping University and Jamil Khan, Lund University. The starting point is that technology is viewed as shaped by humans, to reflect current values as well as the future. Technology also, in itself, shapes society. Palm and Khan study the role of Swedish municipal-owned companies for innovation in socio-technical systems, because of their hybrid character as product/service suppliers as well as democratic and market organizations. The work recently started in an f3 project.
 

Finishing the full-day seminar, a panel discussion was arranged on the theme ”Reducing barriers – necessary actions”, where the members talked about the future possibilities for renewable fuels and what each party can contribute with to the transition.
 
The majority of the presentations from the seminar are now available at the f3 webpage
 
 
 Photo: Maria Grahn
 

Published: Tue 10 Feb 2015.