Arctic know-how: The world’s first LNG icebreaker, Polaris, fills its tanks with liquefied natural gas in Tornio
This winter, the icebreaker Polaris’ environmentally friendly properties can be measured more comprehensively as it will be refueled with liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Tornio LNG terminal. Polaris is the world’s first icebreaker to use an LNG engine.
On Saturday 2 February, icebreaker Polaris refueled for the first time at the Nordic countries’ largest liquefied natural gas terminal in Tornio in the icy Röyttä Harbour. As of yet, LNG is the world’s most environmentally friendly fuel in shipping. It does not contain sulphur, and its combustion generates approximately 87% less nitrogen oxides in comparison to regularly used Marine Diesel Oil (MDO). Furthermore, LNG’s particulate matter emissions are nearly non-existent.
New generation icebreaker
From the outset, Polaris was designed as an icebreaker that combines efficiency with environmental friendliness. “This is the third winter in the demanding, icy conditions of the northern Baltic Sea for the world’s first LNG-powered icebreaker. Polaris has met our expectations with flying colours proving that it is truly a next generation icebreaker,” says Markus Karjalainen, Head of the Winter Navigation Unit of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA). FTIA is responsible for Finland’s icebreaking services and for making sure that Finland’s harbours can be accessed throughout the year.
All sectors of transport strive to reduce emissions. “Tornio’s new LNG terminal enables increased use of LNG when operating in the Bay of Bothnia,” Karjalainen states. “Until now, the northernmost suitable terminal was located in Pori, which is way too far from Polaris’ operating area in the far end of the Bothnian Bay. Some LNG has been delivered by truck, but Polaris has had to rely mainly on diesel.”
Towards cleaner shipping
The world’s most environmentally friendly diesel–electric icebreaker, Polaris, joined the fleet of Finland’s icebreaker operator Arctia Ltd. in September 2016. By being one of the world’s first shipping companies to start using LNG, Arctia promotes the transition towards cleaner future fuels like LNG and biofuels in shipping. This development is not only significant for the Finnish maritime cluster but also for national and international climate goals.
“In addition to using LNG, all of Polaris’ operations aim at environmental friendliness. For example, the lubricant used in the ship’s propulsion system is biodegradable. The ship’s grey water, which basically consists of showering water, is collected to a container which is emptied during port calls. In other words, nothing is released to the sea, even if it the water has been purified,” says Pasi Järvelin, Master of IB Polaris.
Icebreaking season ended on 15 May
The Icebreaking season 2020–2021 ended on 15 May. Polaris, the last icebreaker to operate in the Bay of Bothnia this season, will stop by Röyttä Harbour before its return to the Katajanokka base in Helsinki.
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