GTL diesel: for a cleaner engine and project environment
GTL is one of the key players in the search for innovations that will reduce the impact of our energy supply on our surroundings, without compromising reliability or power. This synthetic diesel can be used without altering engines and reduces local emissions of nitrogen oxides and fine particulates. Especially for projects in residential areas or at events this quality makes GTL a particularly interesting alternative for regular diesel.
What is GTL?
GTL is a synthetic diesel extracted from natural gas. This abbreviation stands for gas-to-liquids. GTL is extracted through a Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, during which natural gas is converted into a synthesis gas consisting of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This synthesis gas is then converted into liquid hydrocarbons under a high temperature. Lastly, the raw synthetic oil is split into various final products, including fuels, lubricating oils and raw materials for other chemical processes.
In terms of chemical properties GTL is practically identical to regular diesel, which makes it suitable for practically all diesel engines. As such, GTL can be used directly for cars, trucks, ships and gensets without requiring engine modifications.
GTL and your engine
Due to its production method GTL is a very pure fuel and burns cleaner than regular diesel. This results in a reduction in local emission of nitrogen oxides and fine particulates, as well as less sooting and abrasion in the engine. However, due to the absence of certain aromatics the so-called seal swell effect is missing when using GTL. Regular diesel contains substances that cause the rubber rings in certain engine parts to expand, which prevents leakage. In newer engines this is not an issue due to the use of a new kind of rubber that does not shrink.
Another benefit for your engine is the fact that, to date, the addition of biofuels is not required for GTL. For regular diesel this is mandatory. Although the use of biodiesel is better for the environment it does attract water, which stimulates the growth of bacteria and algae in the fuel tank. Because microorganisms secrete acids which cause pitting corrosion, the fuel tank can be damaged if the problem isn’t discovered in time. Inspecting the fuel in a tank happens during a fuel analysis. However, due to the lack of biocomponents in GTL this form of pollution cannot take place when using this fuel.
Lastly, GTL has a high cetane number (75-80), which allows it to combust under low temperatures as well. Even under very low temperatures (as low as -20⁰C) no flocculation will occur. This means that in case of low engine demand GTL is more efficient than regular diesel. However, if the engine does warm up properly GTL is less efficient due to its low energy density. To achieve the same power as with regular diesel, the engine requires approximately 6% more fuel when running on GTL.
GTL and the environment
The purity of GTL is one of its leading benefits. Because of its unique composition GTL barely contains sulfur and aromatics, which results in a significantly lower emission of fine particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and carbon monoxides in comparison to regular diesel.
The difference between a genset running on GTL and one running on regular diesel is immediately visible; the combustion of GTL results in far less smoke. Using GTL also considerably reduces nuisance for local residents since it’s also practically odorless and the sound of its combustion is approximately four decibels lower than the sound of combusting regular diesel. This makes GTL highly suitable for projects in residential areas, at events and in areas subject to strict regulation regarding the emission of NOx and fine particulates.
The amount of CO₂ released during the combustion of GTL is slightly lower than it would be with regular diesel. However, this only applies when looking at the emission directly from the engine. When also considering the emission during the production process of both fuels (the well-to-wheel method), the emission of GTL is approximately 5% higher. This is due to the production process of GTL, which requires 1.5 times as much energy as the production of regular diesel.
Advantages and disadvantages of GTL
Using GTL has various benefits for your engine as well as the surroundings of your project. This synthetic fuel is characterized by the following:
- Very clean combustion due to its unique composition
- No engine pollution due to the lack of biocomponents
- Easy combustion and no flocculation under low temperatures
- Lower local emission of nitrogen oxides, sulfur and fine particulates
- Colorless and odorless, resulting in less nuisance for local residents
- Directly usable without requiring modifications to the engine
However, there are also a few disadvantages to using GTL, particularly regarding efficiency and CO₂ emission:
- A little less efficient than regular fuel due to a lower energy density
- Slightly higher CO₂ emission from well-to-wheel, compared to regular diesel
- Rubber rings in old engines can shrink due to the lacking seal swell effect
Based on these advantages and disadvantages you can decide if GTL is suitable for your situation or not. Bredenoord offers various types of fuel for its gensets, each with unique properties. We will gladly help you choose the most suitable solution for your project. Would you like to hear our advice or start running a genset on GTL straight away? Feel free to contact us.