The inland waterway transport (IWT) sector is undergoing a transformative shift towards greener and more sustainable practices, with a particular focus on alternative fuels. As industry actors explore viable fuel options, here is Cemex’s case study involving Gas to Liquid (GTL) and Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) as potential alternatives. Cemex France tests these fuels as part of their commitment to greening their IWT fleet. Here are some findings based on their experience.

GTL: Reducing Emissions and Enhancing Performance

Cemex initially experimented with GTL, a synthetic diesel fuel derived from methane, on the “Emerillon” and “Busard” pushers in Paris. GTL demonstrated its ability to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, as well as lower noise and smoke levels. However, the drawback lies in GTL’s origin from fossil gas, which means it doesn’t effectively reduce CO2 emissions.

HVO: A Promising Transition Fuel

To address the need for a more sustainable fuel option, Cemex has turned its attention to Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO). Since September 2022, the “Busard” pusher, operating between concrete plants in western Paris, has been successfully using HVO supplied by Total. Cemex plans to extend this transition to other manoeuvring pushers, gradually reducing their CO2 emissions.

Benefits and Challenges

One notable advantage of both GTL and HVO is that they can be seamlessly used in existing engines without requiring modifications. Cemex has confirmed that the HVO they utilize is derived from recycled oils, further contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions. However, the adoption of HVO comes with a significant additional cost compared to non-road diesel (GNR). Cemex is committed to reducing emissions by 12% by the end of 2023 as part of its sustainability targets.

Refuelling Considerations

While HVO shows promise, the refuelling process presents challenges. Currently, HVO is delivered by truck, making it suitable for smaller units. However, for larger line pushers, a refuelling vessel, similar to those used for non-road diesel (GNR), is preferred. Additionally, the availability of HVO in sufficient quantities for the entire fleet remains uncertain.

The use of alternative fuels in the IWT sector holds immense potential for achieving sustainable and eco-friendly operations. While GTL offers advantages in terms of emissions reduction and performance enhancement, HVO demonstrates promise as a transition fuel with its ability to reduce CO2 emissions. As the industry embraces the energy transition, it becomes crucial to consider the specific benefits and challenges associated with each alternative fuel option.

Source: Entreprises fluviales de France