A Positive Evaluation

Virent’s renewable gasoline successfully completes road trial
By Erin Voegele | October 24, 2011

Royal Dutch Shell recently tested the impact of Virent Energy Systems Inc.’s biobased gasoline on vehicle engines. The results of the evaluation show that the renewable fuel caused “no harm” to vehicles when compared to conventional gasoline.
To complete the road trials, Shell used five identical pairs of vehicles. One vehicle in each pair was fueled with petroleum gasoline; the other was fueled with a mix of petroleum gasoline and Virent’s biobased fuel. Each car was then driven approximately 6,000 miles. At the end of trial the engines of all 10 cars were dismantled and inspected. Regardless of the fuel used, all engines were found to be in the same condition.

Aaron Imrie, Virent’s commercial manager of fuels, says that the successful completion of the trial is an important achievement for this company. “We had a lot of confidence that we would be successful in completing this first road trial,” he adds, noting that Virent’s renewable gasoline is a drop-in biofuel that is nearly identical to fossil gasoline on a molecular level. According to Imrie, the trial demonstrated that Virent’s renewable gasoline essentially performs identically to conventional gasoline. “That is exactly what we were hoping to see,” he says.

Additional testing will need to be completed to certify Virent’s fuel for deployment in the U.S. That testing will be done through engagement with the U.S. EPA. “We’ve started those discussions,” Imrie says. “There is a fairly lengthy process for getting a new fuel approved in the U.S. At this point we’re ready to do what the EPA calls Tier 1 testing. That is similar to the fleet trials in the U.K…and it focuses primarily on the exhaust emissions as well as the evaporative emissions.” 

—Erin Voegele