Value Maritime – Capturing Carbon and Value

Value Maritime’s technology allows for carbon to not only be cleaned and captured but also put to good use.

Value Maritime was founded nearly five years ago by Christiaan Nijst and Maarten Lodewijks, friends of 15 years who combined their technical and commercial backgrounds to launch an exhaust cleaning system for smaller vessels, coasters and container feeders sailing around Europe.

The end result was the Filtree System, a CO₂ capture and storage solution with a plug-and-play concept made from standard modules and materials. The system can be installed quickly with only a few modifications to the ship, and modules can be exchanged and installed elsewhere with ease.

“We have 13 vessels equipped with our system, another five we’re building at the moment, and 15 in our order book,” Nijst tells us. “We’re growing fast, and while the coronavirus affected us quite a bit, resulting in a lot of orders being cancelled, it gave us time to develop our product, including a CO2 battery which we can use to easily remove CO2 from the exhaust and store it.”

Once these batteries are full, they can be taken to the end-users of CO2 such as greenhouses, who will have the equipment to remove the CO2 and utilise it to enhance crop growth. This means those end users are not burning natural gas, so as well as reducing emissions the technology enables a direct CO2 saving.

It is a far more efficient system than some of the available alternatives.

“If you use land-based technology to capture CO2, you’re actually installing a complete chemical plant that uses a lot of energy,” Nijst says. “We can efficiently capture that CO2 from the exhaust, store it, and integrate the release of CO2 for the end-user, reusing the CO2 in greenhouses, methanol and other products. We don’t want to go the route of storing it underground because there are potential applications to reuse it in the right way.”

It is new technology but already proven.

“We’ve shown we’re capable of doing that in a cost-efficient way, and that’s where we’re growing our business at the moment,” Nijst says. “We’ve evolved from a start-up in regular exhaust cleaning systems, to being ahead of our competitors with a working carbon capture and reuse technology, and building equipment for vessels.”

Value Maritime is capable of removing CO2 from a vessel in an easy, energy-efficient and cost-effective manner, and they are also the only ones capable of doing that. What’s more, this is proven, applied technology, not a pipe dream.

“We’re not carrying out studies or pilot schemes, we’re really doing it,” Nijst insists. “By the end of the first quarter, we’ll have six vessels sailing with the technology to remove CO2 from the vessel.”

A Sustainable Regulatory Environment

However, while the technology and its benefits are proven, the regulatory environment around this technology is still catching up with the latest developments.

“We face uncertainty around regulations but our system design is ahead of the legislation. There’s a healthy push to reduce CO2 but the regulations are not clear yet,” Nijst explains. “There’s a lot of talk about CO2 but in the end, you need to pay for the CO2 removed from the vessels. So, we designed our product to allow us to install equipment that has a good value proposition.”

Fortunately, these are precisely the challenges Value Maritime’s systems anticipated.

Ships with the system installed have the capability to bunker cheaper fuels and the option to remove CO2 from the system if the commercial environment is there to support it, but that environment is not defined and clear yet,” Nijst says. “We designed our system to be able to deal with uncertainty and give the owner an easy choice to remove CO2, but only remove it when the market environment is there.”

The goal is to provide tools that will make the shipping industry more sustainable and more profitable.

“Our ambition is to provide the shipping industry with the tools for a clean, low environmental footprint. In the end, I don’t think the world will use less material in their day-to-day lives, and the shipping industry is the cleanest way to transport material from A to B,” says Nijst. “By removing the CO2 and particle matter from the exhaust we can create a green shipping industry. The technology is not a silver bullet, and it does not apply to all vessels, but it will serve a large range of vessels and we’re happy we can support the majority of the shipping industry.”

Nijst anticipates a future where CO2 has become a commodity, making the ability to remove and reuse it in the most efficient way a technology that will make a big impact.

Attracted to Values

Value Maritime’s mission has been attractive to customers, but it has also made it attractive to potential new recruits.

“I hear a lot about companies having difficulties recruiting staff. For us it’s relatively easy,” Nijst points out. “People want to work at a company that has an environmental impact. Companies like Shell have trouble retaining people. People don’t want to work for the biggest company anymore, they want to work where they can make a positive impact. As such we have only just started posting vacancies because we have had enough people knocking on our door, which is a luxury, but now we are growing fast and looking for the best talent we can find.”

It is not something that Nijst takes for granted.

“Having a team dedicated to making a positive impact will attract other talent as well,” he says. “The people are the real asset of the company.”

In terms of where that company goes next, Nijst has a clear vision, taking Value Maritime beyond supplying cleaning equipment, to becoming an actual commodity company.

“We will also become a CO2 company,” Nijst says. “We’re developing the technology now to capture and reuse CO2 in the most efficient way. The route we believe in is the methanol route. Maersk is investing heavily in converting ships to run on methanol, and if you combine that with a filter to remove the CO2 and bring it back to the methanol production facility, you can create a circular economy. Then you are running your ship with zero emissions and only using the methanol with carbon as a transport medium. We are developing technology to be incorporated into methanal production, transforming from a traditional scrubber company into a longer-term solution for shipping.”

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