Development of sulfur-free marine biofuels

A new fuel based on residual products from the forest could minimize shipping’s emissions of both sulfur and carbon dioxide, tests on a lab scale show.

In a typical Nordic sawmill, raw material equivalent to half of the logs become by-products. That has great potential to fully or partially meet the criteria as a raw material for fuel that can replace heavy fuel oil.

Through a new technology for the treatment of wood residues, based on so-called organosolve fractionation, cellulose and sulfur-free lignin from forest biomass can be isolated. The cellulose can be used to produce the ethanol contained in ethylene glycol, which in turn can be mixed with lignin to produce a fuel called LinEG (organosolv lignin/ethylene glycol).

The research group has developed the technology for producing LinEG on a lab scale and evaluated the fuel’s properties in a test engine to investigate the possibility of using it as a drop-in fuel in ships.

The results show that further development work is required for LinEG to be able to function as a drop-in fuel and to make it commercially interesting.

Some challenges are

  • The relatively low calorific value of the LinEG fuel requires double volumes compared to heavy fuel oil.
  • The ethylene glycol used in this study to make the fuel is fossil based. However, it can be produced sustainably, for example via fermentation of cellulose.
  • LinEG fuel is expected to be more expensive than low-sulfur fossil fuel oil, but cheaper than HVO fuel.
  • There is currently no large-scale facility for organosolve fractionation of forest biomass, which is an important prerequisite for an industrial implementation.

The full final report is postponed due to scientific publication. Contact the project manager if you want to know more.

Results from the project were presented in English in a webinar on 2 June 2022:


Dimitris Athanassiadis, Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) and Bio4Energy


David Agar, SLU // Paul Christakopoulos, Ulrika Rova and Leonidas Matsakas , Bio4Energy/LTU // Martin Tunér, Lund University // Joanne Ellis, SSPA

Time plan
September 2019 - April 2022

Total project cost
2 309 544 SEK

The Swedish Energy Agency, the f3 partners, SLU, Luleå University of Technology, Lund University, SSPA Sweden and Sveaskog.

Swedish Energy Agency's project number within the collaborative research program

The final report can be distributed on request.