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Marine Fuels Conservation


Maine Fuel Conservation/Emission Reduction Project typically leads to a reduction of the volume of pollutants emitted. This relationship is particularly strong for the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Improved vessel efficiency is the cornerstone of IMO’s 2013 mandatory measures to reduce GHG emissions, which require vessel manufacturers to use the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all vessels. EEDI estimates ship CO2 emissions per ton-mile of goods transported relative to a reference average of similar ships. The SEEMP is a ‘live’ document, containing energy improvement measures identified by the ship owner that will be kept onboard each ship. The document should be reviewed regularly to establish the relevance and impact of each measure on ship and fleet operations.

IMO has found that improved vessel fuel efficiency is possible through a variety of approaches including:

• Changes in ship design.

• Use of high-performance propellers.

• Application of wind and solar power to supplement ship energy supply (thereby reducing required energy from propulsion or auxiliary engines).

• Hull friction reduction options.

• Hybrid low-carbon alternative fuels.

• Operational changes such as slow steaming, shore power, and engine controls that better match engine output to a ship’s energy demand.

These fuel conservation initiatives are particularly attractive to vessel operators, given that fuel costs account for between 40 and 70 percent of a vessel’s operating expenses, and that the demand for low-sulfur ECA-compliant fuel will be increasing, along with the price of these fuels.

Fuel conservation options are not appropriate in all situations. For instance, certain biodiesel applications may cause elevated NOx emissions, and the use of biodiesel and slow steaming may have engine maintenance concerns.


A compendium of fuel conservation options for port authorities, ship operators, and policy makers to encourage cost-effective changes to the industry. The compendium should include a ranking system for options that have the greatest impact on air quality, taking into consideration infrastructure requirements, and capital and operating costs.

The compendium should also identify future technological initiatives. Vessels tend to have a long useful life, so identifying future technologies that could significantly improve fuel usage and air quality is critical to encourage adoption at the earliest stage of a vessel’s life cycle.


A comprehensive compendium of fuel conservation/emission reduction options encourages the sustainability of marine cargo shipments. Additionally, port authorities, ship operators, and policy makers must have up-to-date information about options to enhance vessel fuel efficiency in a cost-effective manner. As noted earlier, such information will facilitate a reduction in emissions and possibly lower shipping costs as well.

Related Research:

IMO documents related to Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).


The following tasks are not comprehensive. They are intended as a guide to what might be necessary to successfully complete the research:

Phase 1

  • Compile and review available marine vessel technologies, fuels and changes in operation that enhance fuel consumption rates and reduce emissions. The collected data should include:

    • A detailed description of the option

      • Anticipated fuel savings and emission reductions

      • Applicability assessment

      • Infrastructure requirements

      • Capital and operating Cost information

      • Limitations or barrier to adoption

      • Examples of use (if a future technology, estimated date when the technology will be commercially available)

  • Develop a database to store and retrieve the compiled data

  • Provide a summary of Phase 1 activities, including data structure of project database.

Phase 2

  • From the data compiled in Phase 1 develop a fuel conservation ranking system that takes into consideration anticipated fuel and cost savings, emission reductions, infrastructure issues and limitations.

  • Apply the ranking system to the compiled data to identify the most attractive approaches.

  • For the highest ranked approaches, develop a more in depth technical assessment of the technology

  • Develop case studies the demonstrate the value of the highest ranked approaches,

  • Develop documentation that describes the ranking system and provide a summary of ranked technologies.

  • Provide a document that summarized the additional technical data compiled and include a case study for each of the highest ranking technologies.

Phase 3

  • Prepare implementation manual and PowerPoint presentation for dissemination to potential users

Agencies such as MARAD and the U.S. EPA that have programs to conserve fuel or reduce emissions may find this compendium a complementary tool for their existing programs. These agencies could lead the implementation of this strategy in conjunction with TRB, AASHTO, and trade organizations such as American Association of Port Authorities and vessel operator trade organizations.


Vessel operators may find a compendium of technologies particularly useful, furthermore it may also be of value to Port Authorities, local, state and federal agencies, non-governmental groups, trade groups, and consultants.

Sponsoring Committee:AW030, Marine Environment
Research Period:24 - 36 months
Research Priority:Medium
RNS Developer:Richard Billings and Christopher Roof
Source Info:Vessel operators may find a compendium of technologies particularly useful, furthermore it may also be of value to Port Authorities, local, state and federal agencies, non-governmental groups, trade groups, and consultants.
Date Posted:12/15/2017
Date Modified:12/21/2017
Index Terms:Fuel conservation, Fuel consumption, Fuels, Ships,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Marine Transportation

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