Research vessel switches to biofuel

Aranda is switching to domestic biofuel made from food industry by-products. Credit: Juha Flinkman, SYKE Aranda is switching to domestic biofuel made from food industry by-products. Credit: Juha Flinkman, SYKE

Finnish marine research vessel Aranda is switching over to domestic biofuel made from food industry by-products, such as used vegetable oils and fish guts, which will significantly reduce the vessel’s carbon load.

The vessel, built in the late 1980’s and owned by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), switched over to bio-oil for heating earlier this year.

"For the next step of the trial, we will start burning a mix of mineral-based marine diesel and bio-oil in the vessel's main engines during upcoming trips, looking to find the optimal ratio for efficient and economical engine operation with the highest possible proportion of bio-oil,” said HRD manager Juha Flinkman from SYKE's Marine Research Centre.

“The higher the proportion of bio-oil in the fuel, the lower the ship's carbon load."

New cooperation partners are adding more travel days to the Aranda's annual programme: the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) will carry out its annual fish stock assessment trips on the Aranda and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) uses the Aranda for monitoring the Baltic sea in cooperation with the Marine Research Centre.

However, the Aranda's changes are not limited to new and more cost-effective cooperation projects. The third contract period with shipping company VG-Shipping, which began at the turn of the year, will introduce significant technological changes to the Aranda, reducing her environmental load. This is a welcome changes since SYKE's certified environmental programme EKOSYKE has identified the Aranda as one of the largest individual sources of carbon load in SYKE's operations. This load has already been reduced with the help of an energy efficiency assessment carried out in collaboration with the shipping company, which has, for example, facilitated more efficient planning of research trips, leading to reduced fuel consumption.

Last year, the Aranda also received a considerable grant for an overhaul of the entire ship, the purpose of which is to ensure that she can take care of her duties until the end of her life cycle in the 2030s. The current fuel upgrade and subsequent upgrades to be carried out in 2015-2018 will not only make the Aranda a more cost-efficient and versatile research infrastructure used by a number of cooperation partners, but also one of the most environmentally friendly ships operating in the Baltic and Arctic seas.

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