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Quieter, cleaner and sustainable: the opportunities of HVO diesel

What is HVO diesel?

One of the biofuels that can play an important part in reaching the climate objectives is HVO. HVO, short for hydrotreated vegetable oils, is a synthetic diesel. This fuel is made from hydrocarbons from plant based and animal based fats. Due to the way HVO is produced all oxygen is removed in the process, unlike biofuels gained through esterification, such as FAME. Because the raw materials of HVO can easily be produced again and again HVO is a renewable diesel.

Practical uses of HVO diesel

HVO is suitable for many practical applications, including fuel for engines in transport. It’s generally unnecessary to adapt engines for burning HVO. Technically HVO does not meet the EN 590 norm, however, after various tests many engine manufacturers have confirmed that HVO is suitable for their engines. Among these manufacturers are DAF, Volvo, and MAN, all of which confirmed that their most recent trucks can use HVO without problem. From a selection of biofuels Bredenoord chose to use HVO exclusively.

Benefits of HVO diesel

An important benefit of HVO in comparison to other biofuels is that its properties strongly match with those of fossil diesel, and therefore HVO can be used as a direct replacement. It is possible to blend HVO into fossil diesel but it’s not necessary. The flexibility of HVO allows suppliers to offer a variety of blends in order to find the best solution to an energy demand.

HVO is a synthetic diesel. Various harmful substances such as aromatics and sulphurous bonds are absent. This is an important difference between HVO and fossil diesel, which does contain these harmful substances. As such HVO has a lower emission of harmful substances than fossil diesel. Not only oxygen disappears during the production of HVO. Aromatics, sulphur and pollution are also removed from the raw materials, resulting in a fuel that is not only better for the environment, but also reduces nuisance in the inner city and for local residents near highways. Exhaust fumes from cars using HVO smell less and the processes in the engine are considerably quieter.

HVO diesel as a solution in climate objectives

In the EU it was determined that in 2020 10% of all fuels should consist of biofuels, which are subject to various additional conditions to ensure sustainability. Like with all biofuels with HVO the distinction is made between first and second generation biofuel. First generation HVO is obtained from raw materials that could have served another purpose, such as crops that could have been used for food production. This has various disadvantages, of which the risk of food shortage and hunger are the heaviest component. Using first generation biofuels also comes with a higher CO₂ emission, caused by the machines used to grow the crops.

These problems do not exist with second generation biofuels. These use raw materials that have previously fulfilled a different purpose, such as used frying oil. Second generation HVO can also be produced from animal and plant based waste. When using 100% second generation HVO without blending any other fuels into it, emission in comparison to fossil diesel can be reduced by 85%.

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