14 Mar 2023

HVO: Alternative for company filling stations and forklifts?

Diesel fuel from vegetable fat? Sounds tempting, especially since the fuel is produced on the basis of renewable raw materials and is thus (almost) climate-neutral. But what is the hype about Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO)?

With HVO, Germany could achieve its CO2 targets, because the alternative fuel is processed by many modern trucks without complaint. In conventional diesel engines, it can be used pure or blended with conventional diesel fuel. Due to the ethanol content, however, minor modifications to the fuel systems may be necessary.

Manufacturers give approvals

Some major manufacturers, such as Scania and Volvo Trucks, have already approved all truck models for HVO. The same applies to Iveco S-Way and X-Way with Cursor 11 and Cursor 13 engines as well as to the Iveco T-Way with C13 engine. No technical conversions or special adaptations are required for these models.

The biofuel is also suitable for various forklift trucks. Linde has approved HVO for both the current and most predecessor series in the payload range from 1.4 to 18 tonnes. Hyster provides a retrofit kit for HVO use in its large and empty container stackers as well as reach stackers.

In addition, the eco-fuel is already being produced industrially - for example by Neste in Finland or Eni in Italy. Nevertheless, the supposed climate saver is not allowed to be sold at petrol stations in Germany because it has not yet been approved. So far, HVO may only be added to conventional diesel at a maximum of 26 percent.

Still much debate

HVO is a paraffinic fuel that must meet the requirements of DIN EN 15940. This standard would first have to be included in the Federal Immission Control Ordinance so that the fuels grouped under it could be sold at every public petrol pump. Until that happens, there will be many discussions in Berlin, because HVO also has its downsides.

Environmental associations, for example, voice criticism that palm oil is also processed into HVO, which not least promotes deforestation of the rainforest. However, the EU has long since reacted to this argument: HVO based on palm oil may neither be produced nor imported in Europe. It is possible, however, that the increased use of vegetable oils and slaughterhouse waste for HVO production will lead to supply bottlenecks at other points in the economic cycle. One example of this is power plants, which often burn residues from animal processing. If these become scarce, they have to be replaced by other products, which may then have a fossil origin.

Difference to biodiesel

In addition to slaughterhouse waste, HVO can be obtained from algae or old kitchen fats. This is why HVO is sometimes confused with biodiesel. Both fuels are based on organic or renewable biomass. The difference lies in the chemical composition and production. While biodiesel is produced by esterification, HVO is produced by hydrogenating fats and oils into hydrocarbons through a catalytic reaction with hydrogen, which places lower demands on the origin and quality of the feedstock. These, in turn, ultimately determine the price of HVO, which currently rarely reaches the level of fossil diesel and is usually higher.

Against this background, many fleet operators will probably be able to get over the fact that it will take some time before HVO is generally approved for use at public filling stations. On the other hand, owners of company filling stations can react immediately and flexibly by filling not only their trucks but also their forklift trucks. The company's carbon footprint benefits immediately.

HVO exhibitors as guests at NUFAM

HVO is also an important topic at NUFAM 2023. Exhibitors such as Wirtz Energie + Mineralöl GmbH or Iveco Süd-West Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH will be available for in-depth discussions. Click HERE for the complete list of exhibitors.