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Scanship powers cruise ships with waste

Large cruise ships produce waste at the same rate as small towns. But new technology from Scanship helps ships to manage their waste – and even turn it into biofuel.Published 21 Oct 2022 (updated 7 Feb 2024) · 2 min read

Quick information

At a glance

  • System for turning waste into biofuel
  • Cuts waste management and fuel costs, and reduces CO₂ emissions
  • Plans for installation on Virgin Voyages’ first cruise ship

Although cruise ships only account for a fraction of global sea transport, their emissions are under particular scrutiny due to the ships’ public prominence.

The environment-friendliness of a cruise ship has an impact on public relations and may even affect profitability.


Creating biofuel onboard

Most cruise ships today use an onboard incinerator to burn waste to ashes. Scanship, however, has created a new system of microwave-assisted pyrolysis, converting the waste into biofuel.

Scanship’s process turns all carbon-based waste – including food, sewage, paper, wood, plastics and oils – into flammable gas, bio-oil and charcoal. This re-processed waste can be used to power the cruise ship.

The system reduces a ship’s carbon footprint and is more efficient than using traditional incinerators.

Concrete benefits

Scanship’s waste-to-biofuel system ensures safe disposal of all waste and water on board a cruise ship, and reduces the ship’s need for fossil fuels.

The company estimates that a cruise ship carrying 5 000 passengers can reduce fossil fuel consumption by 1 800 metric tons every year by turning waste to energy. That equals a carbon emission reduction of 6 500 metric tons per year.

Additionally, cruise lines that take an active stand on sustainability could improve public relations and potentially attract more passengers.

Market potential

The ground-breaking Scanship system is still being developed. The company has signed an agreement with Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages, whose first cruise ship is expected to be delivered by 2020 and is intended to feature Scanship’s waste-to-energy system.

The system can potentially be scaled up for use in industrial plants and smart cities, among other applications.



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