Belgium: Flemish biofuels in public transport?

VITO studies the environmental impact of biofuels for public transport and service vehicles in Flanders

At the request of the Department of Environment, Nature and Energy of the Flemish authorities, VITO (Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek) analyzed the consumption and emission of three types of service cars using gasoline. pure vegetable oil (HVP) in comparison with vehicles running on B5 biodiesel and diesel.

For the two light vehicles, the alternative of the HVP is more respectful for the environment. HVP generates less CO2 and its use results in a considerable reduction in particulate emissions. Nevertheless, the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) remains high. The rate of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons is variable, but is much lower than the European standards in force. The 3rd vehicle type 4 × 4 using biofuel has a rather negative environmental balance, which is probably due to the fuel injection system. For all three vehicles, VITO measured a high consumption (up to an additional 15%) of biofuels compared to diesel.

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The same type of study was carried out for the buses of the Flemish transport company De Lijn. The consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of vehicles using, respectively, HVP, diesel, biodiesel and several biodiesel blends were compared from the same trip. As with other vehicles, there was an excess consumption of 15% for biofuels.

The use of biodiesel results in significantly lower CO2 emissions than diesel. In terms of the emission of hydrocarbons and particles, biofuels are more respectful for the environment. Scientists have also found higher nitrogen oxides emissions for diesel compared to biofuels. This result is opposed to previous measurements already carried out by VITO.

A few years ago, De Lijn converted some coaches in order to run them on HPV. This study should conclude on the environmental benefits of switching to biofuel for all De Lijn buses. In May 2008, Minister Kathleen Van Brempt suspended the use of biofuels for De Lijn buses following growing controversy over the environmental impact of biodiesel. She said that "biofuels will only be reintroduced when it is proven that their production respects the environment and that they help to combat greenhouse gas emissions".

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HVP is a generic term for oils that come from seeds containing oil such as rapeseed. This oil is cold drawn from the seeds, filtered and is ready to use without further processing. HVP can be used as a fuel for cars, trucks, tractors and ships. It must be preheated before use, this preheating is done in a conversion kit which allows a diesel engine to run with the HVP. Most often biodiesel is blended with fossil diesel, for example B5 biodiesel contains 5% biofuel.

VITO, the Flemish technological institute, develops sustainable technologies in the field of energy, environment and materials for both the public and private sectors. It provides innovative solutions to increase the competitiveness of companies and exercises advisory skills to government and industries in establishing their strategic policy. His research interests include automotive and fuel technologies, environmental toxicology, remote sensing, and earth observation. Protecting the environment, controlling the effects of climate change and promoting the rational use of energy and raw materials represent the very essence of all of the institute's projects.

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Source: BE Belgium

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