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The alternative fuels driving a low emission future

Jul 9, 2019, 10:56 AM by Certas Energy

Image of a fuel pump

Government, industry and the wider supply chain remain resolute in the quest to make a positive contribution to the ongoing air quality issue. However, it must be acknowledged that low levels of uptake for alternative fuels are first and foremost a commercial challenge. Without an incentive to transition, the business case for investing in the majority of alternative fuels is a difficult one to build - especially where investment in infrastructure is lacking.

As much as this is a challenge, it is also a huge opportunity for alternative ‘fuels for now’ to kick-start the pathway to zero emissions.

So how has the liquid fuel landscape evolved? What’s in the new energy mix? And how will these ‘fuels for now’ forge the way for ‘fuels of the future’?

THE EVOLUTION OF ALTERNATIVE FUELS

Businesses will be familiar with diesel, fossil fuels, heating oil and many other commoditised alternatives available in the market today. In striving for a carbon-free future, these traditional make-ups have been disparaged, with renewable sources being actively encouraged and the focus of ongoing research and development.

In the past, the use of biodiesels have been explored, which have helped to successfully reduce levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) but in doing so, inadvertently, increased nitrogen oxides (NOx) readings. Additional problems were incurred as the impurities in the product caused filter and fuel injection issues. Add a very low storage life, and this first generation of biodiesel products was met with scepticism - seeing little uptake (at least at 100% concentration).

However, advances in research and development have harnessed a new generation of liquid fuels that can redress the balance between technical and environmental parameters.

Liquid fuels of the future

There are many liquid fuel technologies that are already being tested and trialled. These include gas to liquid (GTL), power to liquid, biomass to liquid, hydrothermal liquefaction and hydro-treated biofuel products. However, many of these technologies and developments remain unproven.

In the case of GTL, part of the paraffinic family of fuels, the benefits have been proven. This particular formulation is based on gasification chemistry and can achieve similar performance levels to diesel while reducing emissions of NOx, PM and CO. With noted benefits including high energy density, ease of use and safe handling - supported by security of supply and approvals from many OEMs - GTL delivers an exceptionally strong value proposition.

WHY LIQUID FUELS?

As diesel engine sales decline and renewable energy sources remain unreliable as a failsafe alternative, there needs to be a short to medium-term stop-gap that satisfies security and sustainability concerns. Many alternative liquid fuels are readily-available and offer an immediate way to reduce emissions without the need for additional investment.

With so much investment having already gone into developing these liquid fuels - and the infrastructure behind them - these compositions are best placed to not only form part of the future energy mix, but to lead the transition to the zero-emission endpoint.

Learn more about today’s new liquid energy mix. Download ‘The Future of Liquid Fuels’ report to discover the immediately available short-term local air quality wins from alternative liquid fuels.

To find out more about how GTL fuel can help your business to immediately reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants from on and off-road engines, get in touch here.