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06 Jul

What is HVO Fuel?

HVO fuels such as Green D+ are new paraffinic diesel fuels offering clean burn technology generating significant reductions in greenhouse gas and improved local air quality through lower emissions. HVO fuel, therefore, is considered a sustainable alternative to more commonly used fossil fuels. HVO stands for "Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils". HVO Fuel is produced through the hydro-processing of waste vegetable oils and fats.

Its superior technical qualities – reduced nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions and particulates, longer-term storage stability, and superior cold flow properties for use in cold climates - make it a complete replacement for diesel.

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Is HVO Biodiesel? 

In short, the answer is no. HVO is not biodiesel. High-quality renewable diesel (also known as HVO) and traditional biodiesel (also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester or FAME) are often confused. They are, however, different products, even though both are made from organic biomasses.  

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Can HVO & traditional diesel be mixed? 

Yes, HVO fuel is fully mixable with mineral diesel so you can simply top up your existing diesel stocks and go! However, many of the benefits will be lost if they are mixed due to diesel's properties. When possible, it's best to start fresh with a clean tank of HVO to guarantee its long storage life and high-quality attributes reduced emissions and GHG savings.

How is HVO Fuel Produced? 

In the production process of HVO fuel, impurities are removed from the raw materials which are then hydrotreated at a high temperature. A wide variety of materials containing triglycerides and fatty acids can be used to create HVO. The outcome is a colorless and odorless fuel of a homogenous nature. Chemically it is a simpler composition than regular diesel which requires less energy to combust and as it contains fewer impurities it burns cleaner and releases more of its energy. It is also often called an "advanced biofuel" or "second-generation biofuel".

Traditional, first-generation FAME-type biodiesel, on the other hand, is produced by esterifying vegetable oils or fats. The esterification process restricts the use of poor quality or impure raw materials, such as waste and residues. Biodiesels are more complex chemically, contain more impurities, and require more energy to be used to release the energy within them. 

Due to the expanding range of materials that can be used to create HVO, it is flexible in its feedstock requirements. Allowing the use of a wide range of low-quality waste and residue materials to create the oils.

The acids go through hydrotreatment. This element uses hydrogen to make paraffin and cycloalkanes out of the unsaturated compounds. These less reactive and more stable compounds then undergo hydrocracking or isomerisation, which heightens the quality of the fuels. HVO is manufactured to the exacting EN15940 standard.

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Is HVO the future of fuels?

The rise of HVO use will likely lead to a decrease in traditional biodiesel demand and therefore biodiesel production. HVO production in Europe is expected to increase, with new plants opening this year and further projects planned over the upcoming years. Global HVO production now stands at over 10 billion litres per year, with an additional 5-10 billion litres in announced projects in varying stages of development.

Its excellent environmental and technical properties have been noticed – proven both by its large pricing premiums and increasing global buildout. Whilst there is a huge increase in use and production, HVO remains less prevalent than traditional biofuels but this is changing as the superiority of HVO is more widely acknowledged.

Does HVO fuel have any current drawbacks?

HVO is a sophisticated biofuel but the consumer needs to understand the different types of feedstocks that are used in their production. Waste derived HVO’s are produced from wastes classified under the Renewable Energy Directive 2 (RED2). Even at current production levels, biodiesel and HVO require 37 billion liters of vegetable oils per year; clearly a significant demand on what should be ideally waste derived products. It is important to source sustainable biofuels derived from waste which can be ensured if suppliers are registered with world recognised sustainability bodies and standards such as ISCC.

Waste derived HVO's reduce GHG by over 90% over regular diesel. Non waste derived ones are significantly lower although still better than fossil regular diesels. Whilst Palm Oils were the original typical feedstock for first generation biofuels; crop feedstocks do not feature in waste derived HVO’s. Waste from palm oil production in small volumes can be used as an approved feedstock. Certainly, the scrutiny over feedstocks will continue and hopefully intensify to ensure adverse impacts on for example deforestation in rain forests is not a biproduct of the growth in advanced biofuels.

What are the benefits of HVO fuel?

  • Improves local air quality through a reduction in:
    • NOx emissions by up to 30% - without any impact on the performance of your generators.
    • Particulate matter by up to 87%

  • Reduces Green House Gases by up to 90%, driving users towards sustainability targets

  • By using HVO biofuel you can reduce the risk of costly downtime through filter blockages caused by high bio blend regular diesel.

  • Refueling is a simple and quick process with HVO biodiesel.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of HVO fuel then see how Power Electrics have reduced emissions using Green D+.

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