Danish shipping major A.P. Moller – Maersk, through its corporate arm Maersk Growth, has decided to invest in Dutch start-up Vertoro, a company focused on developing liquid lignin technology which can be used as a marine fuel.

As disclosed, Maersk’s investment will be used to further develop and commercialise Vertoro’s patented liquid lignin technology, which will enable the company to build a demo plant set to become operational in 2022. The output of this plant will be used to develop marine fuels as well as other applications for the materials and chemicals markets.

Dutch firm Vertoro, founded in 2017, produces liquid lignin exclusively from sustainably sourced forestry and agricultural residues by means of a patented thermochemical process. Like fossil oil, liquid lignin can be used as a platform for fuel, chemical and material applications.

“Lignin fuels have a promising potential when it comes to decarbonising shipping… we are excited to invest in the company and become part of the efforts to effectively scale up production of green fuels,” Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, partner at Maersk Growth, commented.

Danish shipping giant anticipates that several fuel types to exist alongside each other in the future and has identified four potential fuel pathways to decarbonisation: biodiesel, alcohols, ammonia, and lignin-enhanced alcohols. 

In this case, lignin, which is a class of complex organic polymers that form key structural materials in the support tissues of most plants, is expected to support Maersk’s work to decarbonise marine operations. 

The investment in Vertoro is the third investment in the fuels of the future from Maersk Growth in less than two months. In September Maersk Growth invested in WasteFuel, a start-up focused on turning waste into sustainable aviation fuel, green bio-methanol, and renewable natural gas.

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