Evaluating Diesel Alternatives

Neste Oil profiles diesel regenerative, releases renewable diesel test results
By Erin Voegele | March 18, 2011

A new diesel fuel produced from 100 percent German rapeseed oil, known as diesel regenerative, was profiled by Neste Oil Corp. and its German partners at Berlin’s International Green Week event in late January. The biobased fuel is a blend of either 93 percent or 89 percent Neste Oil NExBLT renewable diesel combined with either 7 percent or 2 percent conventional biodiesel.

According to Osmo Kammonen, Neste Oil’s senior vice president of communications, marketing and public affairs, the two grades of diesel regenerative are currently undergoing a field trial in Germany. The fuel blend is not currently commercially available.

 “A total of 15 different vehicles are involved in the field trials,” Kammonen says. “The year-long project will test the performance of the new fuel and the contribution it can make to lower emissions. The trials will focus on the negative impact traffic has on busy city centers and the benefits that renewable fuel can bring to the urban environment. The tests will also enable the performance of renewable diesel produced using two different technologies to be compared under field conditions in vehicles with different emission certification levels.”

NExBLT for the trial is being produced at Neste Oil’s Porvoo refinery in Finland, while the biodiesel is being sourced from a German producer. The trial kicked off last summer and will conclude later this year.

While evaluations to test the performance and emissions benefits of diesel regenerative are ongoing, in February, Neste Oil announced the results of a three-year trial of NExBTL. The evaluation, which was organized by Neste Oil, Helsinki Region Transport and Proventia, confirmed that NExBLT can significantly reduce local emissions, leading to a direct impact on urban air quality.

Study data collected by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland demonstrated that NExBLT reduced particulate emissions by 30 percent when compared to petroleum-based diesel. In addition, NOx emissions were found to be 10 percent lower. According to VTT, no issues were detected with tailpipe emissions control systems on vehicles fueled with NExBLT. If all the buses in the greater Helsinki metro area were fueled with Neste Oil’s renewable diesel, VTT estimates that the reduction of traffic-related particulate emissions would be comparable to taking one-third of the region’s buses off the road.

According to Neste Oil, the trial represents the world’s largest renewable fuel field trial to date. Approximately 300 vehicles, representing about 20 percent of the region’s buses participated, drove more than 50 million kilometers (31 million miles) on NExBLT blended fuel. During the initial phase of the trial, the buses were fueled with a blend consisting of 30 percent NExBLT and 70 percent conventional diesel. Beginning in 2008, a portion of the participating vehicles was fueled with 100 percent NExBLT. Neste Oil says the buses running on pure NExBLT demonstrated the largest emissions reductions.

“The results of the trial show that NExBTL renewable diesel is a good solution for reducing public transport local emissions,” says Sakari Toivola, Neste Oil's executive vice president, oil retail. “Bus fleets do not have to be replaced or upgraded to use the fuel, which is a major financial plus. The fuel also works very well in older buses and performs excellently even in challenging winter conditions.” 

—Erin Voegele