Leilac is pleased to announce that it is a partner to a project, led by Windship Technology Limited, that has been awarded £5m by Innovate UK to demonstrate a novel, low-cost route to zero carbon shipping.

The project combines renewably powered propulsion and a lime-based carbon capture solution for remaining emissions from conventional diesel engines. As part of the funding, Leilac will receive a grant of £1m to demonstrate the delivery of lime to an exhaust gas scrubber for CO2 capture.

Noting the benefits of research and development already undertaken in partnership with the cement and lime industries, Leilac CEO, Daniel Rennie said,

Daniel Rennie

“This project marks a significant step in developing a potential route for the efficient and low-cost decarbonisation of the shipping industry. Marine shipping is a particularly hard-to-abate sector, and the very strong synergies that can be made from leveraging the large-scale industrial decarbonisation efforts in the lime and cement industries – combined with the innovative renewable approach by Windship – is an exciting development.”

Carbon capture for shipping

Lime is a highly effective sorbent for the capture of CO2 and can be used in a carbon capture system for the abatement of emissions from conventional diesel engines. For this solution to provide a net reduction or elimination of emissions, the lime used for capture must be produced with low or zero carbon emissions, using shore-based decarbonisation of the lime.

Leilac’s patented technology can produce low emissions lime by efficiently capturing the unavoidable process CO2 emissions released from limestone, without additional chemicals or processes. Leilac’s technology is compatible with clean energy sources, such as hydrogen and electricity, and also alternative fuels, enabling flexible and economical pathways for the production of zero emissions lime and cement. For shipping, the decarbonised lime will be transferred to the relevant marine vessel, where the shipborne carbon capture process is applied. This system is compatible with a wide range of ship types, including tankers, container ships and cruise liners. It is retrofittable, fuel agnostic, and can be simply scaled to meet the decarbonisation ambitions of each ship. The adoption of lime as a sorbent for ships can also significantly expand the market for low and zero emissions lime.

Windship and Leilac’s partnership for zero emissions shipping

Windship and Leilac are partnering to develop an innovative wind propulsion and carbon capture system that has the potential to offer a low-cost route to low and zero emissions shipping.

Windships’ auxiliary power systems use wind propulsion provided by wind rigs, each of which consist of three vertically arranged solid sails. Three triple wing installations can provide sufficient thrust to sail an 80,000 deadweight tonne (DWT) ship without requiring engine power for 60-70% of the journey along typical trade wind routes, dramatically reducing CO2 emissions compared with standard operating conditions.

For manoeuvring in port, handling in storm conditions or for when wind power cannot be guaranteed, ships must also be fitted with engines. Whilst in future these engines may run off zero emissions fuels, the existing fleet is expected to continue to use diesel for several decades.

Together, Windship and Leilac’s technologies can enable approximately 50% of the ship’s power to be provided by renewable energy and emissions from the remaining conventional fuel requirements captured by zero emissions lime. Integration of the carbon capture system with the ship’s engines can enable waste heat recovery from the capture reaction, further reducing fuel demand. This unique combination of technologies has the potential to deliver a highly economical approach to elimination of emissions from shipping.

The demonstration project

The project, led by Windship Technology Limited, will use a new patented solid wing sail technology in conjunction with a lime carbon capture system to demonstrate a route to zero emissions for ships fitted with conventional diesel engines. The project aims to demonstrate the low-cost potential of the proposed decarbonisation solution for shipping and pave the way for zero emissions lime to be used for reducing or eliminating emissions from conventional diesel-powered vessels. The key objective of the project is to design, develop, build and demonstrate a novel drive train system consisting of a single powerful wind propulsion device, working together with a trial carbon capture system to pave the route to zero emission propulsion for bulkers and tankers. This will be installed and trialled on a 15,000DWT bulker. The shipborne carbon capture system will ultimately be designed to use highly reactive low emissions intensity lime, produced in an onshore Leilac reactor, to capture CO2 from the ship’s exhaust gases.

Decarbonising shipping

International shipping is responsible for ~2% of global CO2 emissions.[1] The International Maritime Organization has an objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, compared with a 2008 baseline. Accounting for the projected growth of the shipping industry during this time, achieving this goal will require a reduction in emissions of ~80% based on current levels.[2]

About the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition

The project is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 3 (CMDC3), which was announced in September 2022, funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK. As part of the CMDC3, the Department allocated £60m to 19 flagship projects supported by 92 UK organisations to deliver real world demonstration R&D projects in clean maritime solutions. Projects will take place in multiple locations around the UK from as far north as the Shetland Isles and as far south as Cornwall.

The CMDC3 is part of the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emission’s (UK SHORE) flagship multi-year CMDC programme. In March 2022, the Department announced the biggest government investment ever in our UK commercial maritime sector, allocating £206m to UK SHORE, a new division within the Department for Transport focused on decarbonising the maritime sector. UK SHORE is delivering a suite of interventions throughout 2022-2025 aimed at accelerating the design, manufacture and operation of UK-made clean maritime technologies and unlocking an industry-led transition to Net Zero.

[1] https://www.iea.org/reports/international-shipping

[2] https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/rmt2019_en.pdf