Algoma’s 2023 Biofuel Trials

Marine transportation, representing only 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions yet accounting for 90% of traded goods, is by far the most environmentally efficient way of transporting cargo. As part of a global industry wide effort to continue to decarbonize and reduce overall emissions, in 2022, Algoma declared a 40% reduction target in carbon intensity for our fleet by 2030. As part of this commitment, in May 2023, we began our first biofuel trials. Along with our fleet renewal program, our biofuel trials are one of the many initiatives introduced to continue reducing our environmental footprint.

In case you aren’t aware of what biofuels are, they’re a product of biomass refinement that serves as an organic energy source similar to gasoline or diesel fuel, which is derived directly from plants or indirectly from domestic, industrial, or commercial wastes.

Initially, the trial commenced on two vessels, the Tim S. Dool and the Algoma Guardian, and later extended to the Radcliffe R. Latimer, Algoma Discovery, and John D. Leitch. From May to October, the Tim S. Dool and Algoma Guardian utilized B20 (marine diesel fuel blended with up to 20% biofuel) and eventually transitioned to run on B50 and B100, which is 100% biofuel! The John D. Leitch, and Algoma Discovery bunkered B20 twice, and the Radcliffe R. Latimer bunkered B20 once.

These vessels were chosen due to their existing fuel segregation capabilities, historically running their main engines on Intermediate Fuel Oil (IFO) and generators on Marine Diesel Oil (MDO). Vessels using biofuel need a reserve of one to two days of MDO for emergencies. Algoma utilized exclusively FAME (fatty acid methyl esters) biodiesel during the trials, a generic term for biodiesel from renewable sources, created through transesterification of used oils and fats such as animal fats/tallow, soya oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, and palm oil.

Algoma successfully operated on biofuel for approximately 7,500 hours across five vessels, with no unexpected costs or out-of-service time.

Reducing our fleet’s carbon footprint is one of Algoma’s strategic priorities, and the trials affirm biodiesel’s practicality as the fuel reduces a vessels’ CO2 emissions by more than 70% when consuming B100! It is important to note, however, that biofuels do not come without challenge, as it does not perform well in low seasonal temperatures. It is also more susceptible to biological fouling (microbial growth), particularly if water is introduced. As a result, fuel systems require closer monitoring than when operating on MDO. Currently, Canadian regulations mandate that biofuel must be reported as MDO, which means that the lifecycle benefits of biofuel are not recognized. Moreover, since biofuel contains 10-12% less energy per unit mass, reporting it in this manner results in a 10-12% increase in carbon emissions per megajoule of fuel consumed.

Regardless, sustainable biofuels offer a potential transition to net-zero marine emissions. Algoma takes pride in successfully conducting the trial, emphasizing the opportunity for improvement and further research. “The most interesting aspect for me was the opportunity to improve. Considering a lifecycle approach, biofuel emissions are one-fifth of conventional fuels. In our industry, achieving a 5% improvement is substantial given the significant volumes we handle. Participating in trials that slash GHG emissions to just one-fifth of their previous levels was unimaginable just a few years ago. It’s indeed a privilege to contribute to decarbonization in such a meaningful way.” – Dave Belisle, Director of Vessel Performance.

We are developing plans for further biofuels trials in 2024.

Photo credit: Captain Eric Treece

Relevant Articles


Algoma Central Corporation Announces Convertible Debenture Conversion Price

St. Catharines, Ontario, May 23, 2024 – Algoma Central Corporation

May 23, 2024


Algoma’s Attends Green Shipping Corridor Network Collaborative Forum and Ontario Marine Council Queen’s Park Day

Algoma was busy last week, advocating and collaborating with bi-national


Algoma Central Corporation Announces Results of 2024 Annual General Meeting of Shareholders

Results of 2024 AGM Press Release

May 2, 2024


Get the latest business news and updates:

Get the latest business news and updates: