​Biofuels – Green Diesel

Biofuels are produced from biomass that is organic matter of vegetal or animal origin, and may be used as alternative to conventional fuels derived from petroleum.

The use of biofuels – namely those produced from vegetable oils – allows significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, by as much as 52% compared to fossil fuels, thanks to the good CO2 uptake rate in the life-cycle of oleaginous plants.

Moreover, the diversification of supply sources enhances the so-called national energy security.

Nevertheless, biofuels for current civilian uses (the so-called FAME biofuels) present compatibility issues in the marine sector owing to their physical and chemical properties that make them hard to mix with fossil fuel, and difficult for long-term onboard storage.

In December 2012, the Italian Navy signed a cooperation agreement with ENI for the development and testing of an alternative fuel produced from renewable sources, in accordance with NATO naval fuel standards.

In 2013, ENI - in partnership with the US Honeywell-UOP - developed the Ecofining™ technology, through a series of laboratory and engine bench tests conducted at ENI's Research Centre in S. Donato Milanese. The final product of this technology is the GreenDiesel™ fuel, which can be blended up to 50% with conventional fossil fuel, in accordance with NATO specifications, with no need for engine or equipment modifications.

Green Diesel is currently produced from certified sustainable palm oil, not competing with food production; in the near future, second or third generation feedstock, including used cooking oils, industrial waste oils, or microalgae, will play a role in the biorefinery supply chain.

The Italian Navy successfully tested biofuel on Offshore Patrol Vessel FOSCARI, first European military vessel to sail using "green fuel".

On a memorable day, April 2nd 2014, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Navy, Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, and the US Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, signed a cooperation agreement at Eni's Porto Marghera Biorefinery facility for the joint research, testing and development of renewable fuels, aimed at sharing research and test results while enhancing joint interoperability of new generation fuels for ships and aircraft.

The very same day conventionally marked the start of ENI GreenDiesel™ production.

Testing activities and trials were conducted throughout 2015 on other naval units. In particular, the use of the Green F-76 onboard ITS Cavour allowed a 6% reduction in NOx emissions; onboard Destroyer ITS Caio Duilio, GreenDiesel™ was tested in gas turbine-based propulsion systems, reaching top speed.

GreenDiesel™ was also tested on Submarine Gazzana (June 2015) and ITS Maestrale (November 2015).

On June 16th 2016, in the framework of a joint exercise involving ships from the Italian and the US Navies, a replenishment at sea has been executed, involving the delivery of Green Diesel produced in Italy to a US Navy and IT Navy vessel, thus sealing the partnership between the two Navies in the biofuel sector.

The Italian Navy has been the first and only Naval Service in Europe to operationally test a marine fuel containing up to 50% synthetic component derived from renewable sources, well ahead of the mandatory 10% target set by the EU to be achieved by 2020.


Liquefied natural gas

Liquefied natural gas is of growing importance, being a highly efficient, environmentally friendly and competitive energy source.

The Italian Navy is interested in the use of LNG as a marine fuel, for cost-reduction purposes and with a view to reducing environmental impact both in port areas and high-value and marine protected areas, such as the Arctic and Antarctic Zones, and natural reserves.