Raizen and Wartsila explore ethanol as a green maritime fuel

Raizen and Wartsila explore ethanol as a green maritime fuel

Raizen, the world’s leading sugarcane ethanol producer, has teamed up with Finland’s Wartsila, a prominent name in maritime transportation propulsion, to explore the potential of ethanol as a viable fuel for vessels. This collaboration underscores a concerted effort to mitigate the maritime industry’s substantial carbon emissions.

Wartsila, renowned for its dual-fuel engines compatible with gasoil and methanol, is venturing into uncharted waters by testing ethanol as an alternative fuel. The maritime sector, responsible for a significant share of global carbon emissions, is under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint. Ambitious targets have been set to slash carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050. However, the majority of vessels are still powered by fossil-based fuels.

Stefan Nysjo, Wartsila’s vice president for power supplies, highlighted the similarities between methanol and ethanol. The partnership with Raizen offers an avenue to broaden the understanding of potential low-carbon fuels for ships. Raizen is set to contribute first- and second-generation ethanol for research and will assign a dedicated team to collaborate with Wartsila’s experts.

The Brazilian ethanol giant is optimistic about the prospects of its ethanol reducing carbon emissions by up to 80%. Ethanol’s potential in emission reduction is a subject of ongoing global research. First-generation ethanol is derived from sugarcane, corn, or wheat, while the second generation is produced from plant waste and has the potential to be carbon negative.

Raizen recently commenced production at its second-generation ethanol plant at the Bonfim biopark, in Guariba, São Paulo, Brazil. With an investment of BRL1.2 billion (USD238 million), this is the largest cellulosic ethanol operation in the world, with a production capacity of 82 million liters of ethanol per year. 

Together with the Costa Pinto plant in Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil, Raizen will have a production capacity of 114 million liters per year, which consolidates Raízen as the largest producer of second-generation ethanol (E2G) in the world.