Maine Maritime Academy
Prospective Students Alumni Parents Students Directions Home

Current METEL Projects

Diesel/Glycerin Diesel Fuel Project and Hydrogen Injection Project

Maine Maritime Academy (MMA), in conjunction with several partners from the private sector propose field testing of biofuel/fuel oil emulsions and hydrogen injection technology on board a work boat. MMA is the owner/operator of these types of vessels which are used for training mariners as part of MMA’s Tug and Barge training program operating year round in Penobscot Bay, Maine. The project is intended to prove out these new technologies for implementation on work boat class vessels and it the intent of the project to transition these products to industrial workboats such as the Maine Port Authority Ferry lines (which is currently under discussion).

The proposed program tests both alternative low emissions fuels and emission reduction equipment which represent potential "drop-in" solutions capable of implementation in the current workboat fleet. Vessel testing in conjunction with laboratory engine stand testing will occur in the first year, and then long term durability tests will occur through the second. The project implements state of the art emissions measurement equipment on board the tug along with a web-based monitoring system which can be observed remotely.

Testing of a Glycerine-Diesel emulsified fuel blend on a high speed diesel engine test stand.
(From Left to Right:  Professor Richard Kimball, Scott Eaton, Mitch Kuflick, Kira Pilot)

The NOx emission levels are significantly lower for the glycerol-diesel fuel emulsion as compared to the base line of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD).


The Particulate Material (PM) emissions significantly drop for the glycerol-diesel fuel emulsion as compared to the base line of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD).

Development of Advanced Biofuels for Marine Applications (UMaine)

The significant challenge in converting biomass into a transportation fuel is the removal of oxygen which can affect both the stability of the fuel in addition to its compatibility with petroleum derived fuels and infrastructure. The University of Maine is developing two transformative chemical pathways to convert biomass into crude oils that are compatible with petroleum transportation fuels. These oils are highly stable and have oxygen contents ranging from 1-10 wt%. In the first pathway, called Thermal DeOxygenation (TDO) we learned that salts of biomass-derived mixed organic acids could produce a hydrocarbon oil at high yields without catalysts, hydrogen or high pressures. We have demonstrated TDO using a range of alkali/alkaline earth cations, and we have significant data for oils produced using Ca or Mg salts.  Pyrolytic decomposition of the mixed organic acid salts produces a hydrocarbon oil which is almost devoid of oxygen and at bench scale, the yield has been demonstrated at 80% of theoretical based on organic acids or a calculated 56% of theoretical yield based on both acid hydrolysis of cellulose and TDO. The presence of formic acid in the mixture was found to be particularly important in TDO, and it is a co-product of cellulose acid hydrolysis and is present in the optimum concentration in the hydrolyzate which eliminates the need for an external source of formic acid.

Development of Thermoelectric Exhaust Generator (TEG) Heat Recovery Systems for Marine Diesels

Thermoelectric materials are an enabling technology that allows the recapture of this wasted energy from heat sources, such as exhaust and coolant systems, which account for nearly 50% of the total combustion energy. If a fraction of the marine diesel’s wasted energy could be harnessed and stored with high power density batteries, an electric drive system could be utilized to transport ships quietly and cleanly into and out of congested ports and high population centers. Overall, a dramatic reduction of the maritime industry’s carbon footprint could be realized, as a modest 10% increase in engine efficiency translates into a savings of approximately 180,000 barrels of fuel per day on a world-wide basis.

Solid state thermoelectric materials, when exposed to a thermal gradient, generate an electric potential according to the Seebeck effect. While the automobile industry has taken a lead in commercializing thermoelectric generators (TEG) as early as 2013, it is the marine industry that may well be the greater beneficiary of this technology. Economies of scale, the ability to generate a higher thermal gradient, and fewer weight and volume constraints, all suggest a promising feasibility for marine applications. The successful development of a hybrid thermoelectric vessel (green ship) at Maine Maritime Academy is an integral part of the Marine Engine Testing and Emissions Laboratory. 

Maine Maritime Academy, partnered with Thermoelectric Power Systems, LLC, has been conducting research and development in the applications of thermoelectric generators (TEGs) since 2008. The technical rationale behind the inclusion of thermoelectric research is comprised of the following objectives:

 Provide data on the systems-wide effects of the use of TEGs on plant efficiency and performance (in a marine environment).

 Identification of optimal marine platforms to utilize TEG energy recovery systems

 Identification of optimal thermoelectric materials and TEG designs for classes of marine platforms

 To provide the U.S. DOT with an objective and systems level evaluation of TEGs in marine applications.