Introducing hydrotreated vegetable oil - HVO
Whilst we wait for an all-electric future for our vehicles, there is an ‘easy win’ that organisations should be adopting. The alternative biofuel Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) can help deliver sustainability strategies and help meet carbon reduction targets.
Currently, there are many variations of ‘alternative fuels’ available on the market both globally and in the UK. The drive for lower GHG emissions, cleaner air and the transition away from fossil fuels is helping drive greater demand for ‘alternative fuel’ such as HVO.
HVO is available ‘on pump’ and available to the public in continental Europe (particularly within Sweden, Finland and Holland) and market trends indicate that the UK will see significant growth in HVO demand within the next 12–18 months. HVO is a relatively new fuel that has not been widely available until recently, so establishing a consistent supply to satisfy demand will be key to market growth and to ensuring a cleaner greener future for the UK transport sector.
HVO can deliver instantaneous reductions in greenhouse gas CO2 by 93% with no additional capital expenditure on new equipment or existing re-fuelling infrastructure.
HVO is a direct replacement for diesel fuel and is referred to as a “renewable diesel fuel”. It is not “biodiesel”. Biodiesel is known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) and can only be blended directly with conventional diesel at levels of up to 10%. However, the standard norm in the UK is to blend biodiesel to a maximum of 7% of the total fuel.
HVO - technical benefits
Hydrotreated products are called ‘renewable (paraffinic) diesel fuels’. Hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVOs) do not have the detrimental effects of ester-type biodiesel fuels (such as increased NOx emission, deposit formation, storage stability problems, more rapid aging of engine oil or poor cold properties). HVOs are straight chain paraffinic hydrocarbons that are free of aromatics, oxygen and sulphur and have high cetane numbers (70+).
In addition, being a paraffinic diesel, HVO contains no oxygen and repels water and so its storage life (if kept correctly) is indefinite. This sets it apart from biodiesel which has a short shelf life (8 months max if kept correctly) due to its high oxygen content and water attraction properties. Unlike some other biofuels, HVO isn’t particularly sensitive to low or high temperatures, or to exposure to sunlight.
There have been many studies performed looking at its application in both road and non-road applications and it is now recommended as a “first choice” fuel by OEMs such as John Deere, JCB, Scania, DAF and Volvo.
A recent Milbrook urban cycle test on a Euro 6 waste truck demonstrated that at low speeds/loads, the diesel NOx emissions were 3 times over the Euro 6 limit as the SCRs do not work at low temperatures using diesel. However, powered on HVO, NOx emissions were below the Euro 6 limit. HVO can reduce particulates by up to 80%.
Again, for Euro 6 trucks running on fossil diesel where the DPFs do not work at low speeds and temperatures, the engines must be regenerated – often at full power. This issue is significantly reduced when using HVO as, in these circumstances, HVO creates little to no regeneration issues.
HVO - Case study
East Suffolk Council are divesting of diesel for their fleet of vehicles. The fleet, consisting of 246 vehicles, mainly operated by East Suffolk Norse, contributed to around 44% of the Council’s total carbon emissions last year, and was the biggest contributor to their carbon footprint by far. Initially, 32% of their fleet will be converted to HVO, including 60% of the heavy goods refuse lorries.
Cllr James Mallinder, East Suffolk Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:
“East Suffolk Council has pledged to put the environment at the heart of everything we do and to become carbon neutral by 2030. In doing so, we’re committed to making radical changes to our operational assets and with the move to a fully electrical fleet some way off, moving to cleaner and more sustainable fuel is the best way to tackle one of our biggest polluters and dramatically reduce our carbon emissions. I strongly believe that making changes such as these to how we operate will make a big difference over time and help build a legacy for future generations.”
HVO - duty changes April 2022
For some organisations, the forthcoming duty changes for red diesel (increasing from 11.14 ppl to 57.95 ppl) will provide them the opportunity to switch away from red diesel to HVO and allow them to reclaim the duty due to HVO being classed as a ‘biofuel’*
HMRC confirms that biofuels obtain duty reclaim rights if used to create any type of electricity – unlike diesel and other fossil fuels that can only claim when producing electricity for licensed suppliers (e.g. the Grid etc) but still have to pay CPS tax (at present 4.916p/litre)
There is no reason why buses, coaches, boats, planes, delivery vans, lorries and generators cannot be powered by this renewable diesel fuel.
HVO has a significant role to play in the transition to net zero and can deliver instant carbon savings with ease.