Circular Economy Feasibility Study - Ecomar Propulsion (Clean marine propulsion systems for circularity and sustainable materials use)



Ecomar Propulsion Limited is at the forefront of designing and producing clean electric marine propulsion systems with ambitions to 'reduce noxious emissions from the shipping industry by more than 5 million tonnes within 10 years'. Its state-of-the-art electric outboard engine, electric inboard system and hydrogen/batter electric hybrid energy control systems aimed at large commercial vessels, will launch in 2022 with significant market demand from major players globally.

In the transition towards net zero, shipping will require Gigawatts of batteries (i.e., lithium) and huge amounts of other valuable materials. There is growing concern regarding the large amount of non-recyclable products used and in particular, the requirement for technology metals (e.g., Lithium, Cobalt, Platinum and Vanadium) in the power systems, with no clear processes for recycling these materials when they are no longer capable of powering a ship. There is a real danger that in the rush towards a cleaner maritime industry, the world's biggest polluters will ignore the impacts on the environment that come from mining, toxic waste and depletion of rare earth materials. It is essential that a circular economy approach is established and that wherever possible, valuable resources are saved in production and second life and none of the investment is wasted. Production of products must also remain cognisant of the requirement to use recycled products where possible, processed using materials that will not affect second life uses ie (removable or no glues) and ensure that the second life use of all the materials is considered in the design and production phases.

In collaboration with specialists in the technology metals circular economy at the University of Exeter's Met4Tech Circular Economy Centre, this project aims to conduct a 'whole-of-life' emissions valuation based on the initial design of Ecomar's product lines, and will explore how valuable materials can be responsibly sourced, recovered, recycled and reused to create a more robust supply-chain.

There are huge potential benefits to be gained from including the circular economy in all stages of the design process. Ecomar will use the results of this project to consider redesign of the products to replace non-recyclable components, creating clean energy systems with 100% recoverable and recyclable materials, and including materials that comply with recognised 'fair trade' measures. Outcomes will set a new benchmark for how large E Machines should be designed and manufactured, and will provide the shipping industry with informed direction as the decarbonisation process accelerates globally.

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