Traceability and bunker-content verification could come from combining the cutting-edge technologies of blockchain and synthetic DNA tagging
Known as BunkerTrace, the innovative new solution combines blockchain technology from BLOC and synthetic DNA tagging technology from Forecast Technology, and was soft-launched on 9 September as part of London International Shipping Week.
BLOC has been promoting blockchain to bring accountability to the bunker supply chain for some time, but adding DNA tagging technology resolves potential discrepancies between details of bunkers contained in the blockchain data and the real-world content by tying the digital and physical immutably together.
Forecast Technology started out looking at how their synthetic DNA tagging could be used to identify culprits behind oil spills. However after meeting with BLOC, the two companies realised their technologies could be combined to bring transparency and trust to the bunker supply chain.
When a vessel owner orders a particular fuel blend, Forecast Technology’s synthetic DNA can be used to mark this at the point it leaves the refinery with a small bottle of additive.
When the fuel is taken on board a vessel it can be tested with a simple briefcase-based kit that quickly returns a result that will identify whether there has been any blending of the fuel, or contamination, without sending samples away for testing.
The single-strand synthetic DNA is an oligonucleotide, which can provide a theoretically unlimited number of codes and could even be customised to contain a range of information, for example who is loading the fuel, who the bunker supplier is and what vessel it is being loaded on to.
Applications of such technology include easing the regulatory burden on vessel owners of demonstrating to port states that fuels are compliant with content regulations.