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Can we make freight more sustainable right now?

Zeus’s founding purpose is to facilitate a global move to sustainable freight.

07th November 2022

Aerial view of road through forest

Written by

Sam McGuirk

Chief Commercial Officer

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True carbon reduction for road freight will only come with zero emission vehicles such as electric HGVs or clean hydrogen. The reality is that these technologies are not yet ready for full scale implementation. However, there is a viable step between diesel and zero emissions vehicles and that is HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil).

HVO is a ‘drop-in’ intermediary step to zero-emission vehicles.

HVO removes the problems that alternatives like FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Esters) fuels suffer (such as attracting water, which causes engine problems), and provides superior performance from day one. This is because HVO is not a biodiesel, it is an advanced renewable fuel that’s FAME and ester-free.

So, what is Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO)?

  1. HVO fuel is a fossil free, renewable and sustainable fuel produced by hydrotreatment of vegetable oils and/or animal fats.

  2. HVO is stable, renewable, sustainable and high-quality, and therefore offers better combustion, filterability and cold temperature performance than fossil diesel, whilst significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions on combustion.

  3. The chemical structure is almost identical to regular diesel and therefore can fully replace fossil diesel in HGVs.

  4. It can offer up to 90% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared with regular diesel. The variance depends on the truck age, model, type of engine, terrain, weight of laden vehicle and driver behaviour. European laboratory tests place the variance from 70 to 90% reduction versus diesel.

  5. HVO biofuel meets EN 15940 standards and Fuel Quality Directive 2009/30/EC Annex 2, which allow it to be used in diesel engines.

  6. HVO has a CFPP (Cold Filter Plugging Point) of -32oC, which is actually lower than diesel, so there are no cold weather issues.

  7. HVO100, can be used in diesel engines without modification and is approved for all heavy vehicles such as Scania, Volvo, Mercedes, MAN among others. This is the fuel version Zeus recommends.

Can a switch today really decrease CO2 emissions?

Yes, it should. But live emissions data for HVO fuelled trucks has not been made public. The emissions reductions are all based on lab conditions.

However, though the exact savings needs a real-world test - it can be very comfortably assumed it is at least 70% better than diesel. And that’s an amazing step.

Some HVO fuel providers also provide ‘lifecycle net carbon reductions’, which is calculations from production to pump, and this combined with the emissions side (the act of combustion) can deliver upto 90% reduction in carbon equivalent emissions versus diesel.

A ready to go ‘drop-in’ alternative to diesel

From a renewability perspective, HVO is also fully certified by the International Sustainability Carbon Certification (ISCC). However, standardised reporting of HVO fuel carbon emissions has not yet been finalised by GLEC. This means standardised reporting cannot be provided just yet. However, the Global Logistics Emissions Council is currently in the final stages of developing a process.

In summary, Zeus recommends HVO as an effective part of any supply chain strategy to reduce carbon emissions quickly.

At Zeus, we can already provide HVO powered trucks with a realistic plan aligned to your routes across the UK and Europe, and in line with your sustainability goals and core metrics. Contact us to find out more.