California’s ban on the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035 has drawn a lot of attention to alternative transportation solutions and green energy. While the spotlight remains on electric vehicles, there are other interesting innovations on the market that offer viable and economic alternatives, HVO fuel or, in other words, Renewable Diesel, being one of the most interesting ones. HVO stands for “Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil”, which is a diesel product produced from residual oils and is known not only for low odor and high safety standards but also for its significant ability to reduce CO2 emissions. We interviewed Robin Jackson, the Director of Sales and Technical Trainer at Western States Oil, to find out more about this exciting alternative fuel.
What is So Extraordinary About Renewable Diesel?
According to Robin, Renewable Diesel can lead to up to a 67-85% reduction of emissions and 24% lower levels of carbon monoxide. The product also prolongs engine maintenance intervals, emits significantly less fumes, is odorless, and doesn’t introduce any new carbon into the atmosphere. Renewable diesel is often mistakenly compared to biodiesel, but these two fuels are very different products. Unlike its counterpart, renewable diesel is a hydrocarbon fuel whereas BIO diesel is a fatty acid methyl ester which contains oxygen. So Renewable diesel is non-polar as it does not contain oxygen and it will repel water, leaving near-zero risk for algae or microbial growth. It also offers more efficient and quicker combustion, better engine response, quieter operation, and more power.
Robin says that Renewable Diesel is also a very stable fuel that can be operated safely in challenging circumstances. “Its low cloud point and very high flash point along with its resistance to gelling in cold weather, and incredible oxidative stability make it a desired solution for people operating fire trucks and overwater vehicles.” Altogether, it is a real powerhouse offering better performance, and significant cost savings in engine maintenance, and safety.
How Is Renewable Diesel Produced?
The main building blocks of renewable diesel are used cooking oil, fish fat, animal waste, plant waste, and other residual oils. The proportions of the materials vary from market to market, and from year to year depending on price, availability, and market-specific requirements. Once collected, the waste and residue materials are pre-treated for impurities and the end result is a clean raw material that can be turned into a variety of renewable products. This material is turned into hydrocarbon diesel molecules. Sulfur, nickel, sodium, and other additional impurities are also removed during the process. The hydrocarbons are then perfected through isomerization. During this process, the straight-chain hydrocarbon structure is branched, which improves its physical properties. The end result is a clean, water-like odorless product.
How Does Renewable Diesel Compare To Electric Vehicles?
The massive push for electric vehicles does not always go hand in hand with sustainability and CO2 goals as most electricity is still produced from coal, nuclear power, and sources requiring the use of burning fossil fuels. Not to mention the scraping of the ocean floors for minerals and the lithium batteries that may end up in landfills and require a significant amount of power to charge. “Renewable Diesel is far cleaner than electric-powered vehicles,” says Robin. Renewable Diesel-powered engines do not rely on lithium batteries or other materials that might be sourced unethically or by disturbing the ecological balance of the ocean floor. Its production also does not require fossil fuels or nuclear power.
What Kind of Investments Are Required for Transitioning to Renewable Diesel
After the exciting news about Renewable Diesel, the next question to address is the price. “It’s priced in line with fossil fuel. CA has a subsidy in place to offset the high price of feedstock so the consumer doesn’t absorb a change in price!” says Robin. According to her, it is a drop-in replacement fuel and therefore it requires no new investments to the existing infrastructure, such as engine modifications or charging station network. “It IS D975 diesel, so you can use this fuel to power ANY diesel engine. It is endorsed by all major OEMs”.
Despite the low transitioning costs and significant environmental impact, there are plenty of other good reasons why some of Robin’s customers made the transition to Renewable Diesel. According to Robin, changes in the legislative environment and a strong governmental push towards sustainability are the most pressing reasons, but that aside, renewable diesel is also offering significant cost savings. A new DPF filter part costs on average $3500-$5000, but thanks to renewable diesel’s unique chemical composition, savings in maintenance alone are massive. Robin strongly believes renewable diesel to be one of the leading fuel solutions available NOW.
“This is an immediate solution for change without having to do anything but just to change your product. Later, we might go towards hydrogen but that requires investments in infrastructure. Doesn’t make any sense to anyone not to be using it. This solution is available already.” says Robin.
How to Source Renewable Diesel?
Renewable Diesel production capacity is increasing with the opening of new production facilities in California Europe and Asia. According to Robin, Western State Oil has an ample supply of Renewable Diesel and the company has the capacity to take on a lot of new business as well as increases in the existing order base. Are you interested to find out more? You can contact Robin directly at email@example.com or get in touch with Silicon Valley Clean Cities Coalition.