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June 7, 2023

A Bill Gates-led Fund Invested In A Startup Backing Methanol As A Green Fuel For Global Shipping


By Aakanksha Nigam

Since the carbon footprint left behind by the shipping industry in 2021 was 936 million metric tons, ship manufacturers have been trying to minimize their carbon footprint, but the sector’s carbon emissions have only risen with the rising global trade.

While some companies are considering installing giant kites to capture wind and propel their cargo ships, the Danish start-up Blue World Technologies came up with another potential solution by using clear-burning fuel, methanol. 

In the pursuit of scaling up the production of the new system that could power large ships using methanol, their company has raised €37 million ($36.9 million) from investors, including Breakthrough Energy Venture, which is backed by Bill Gates.

Methanol can be produced from biomass or by combining carbon dioxide with hydrogen. Even though it is easier to burn methanol like any petroleum-based fuel, its efficiency can be increased by extracting the hydrogen molecules from methanol and running them through a fuel cell.

According to BWT’s estimation, using a fuel cell can save as much as 30% of fuel compared to a combustion engine. 

Blue World’s Chief Executive Officer, Anders, states, “The methanol that’s going to be used on those ships in the future will be, at least initially, more expensive, so that will come with a green premium.” He further adds, “Our place in the world is to lower that green premium.”

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