Rising environmental awareness paired with the world’s ever-waning supply of crude oil has driven car and fuel industries to look towards alternative fuels. Specifically, these industries seek to lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when compared to conventional fuels.

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Advanced Motor Fuels (AMF) initiative of Advanced Motor Fuels (AMF) recently published a report consisting of research commissioned by the Germany-based University of Rostock. The research investigates the use of different fuels as diesel substitutes in modern diesel engines. The fuels tested include:

  • Hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVO)
  • Fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) – is biodiesel produced using traditional chemical catalyzed process
  • Enzymatic fatty acid methyl esters (E-FAME) – is FAME that is produced with enzymes.

Fatty acid methyl esters from Blue SunThe experiment was purposed at analyzing the impact of various diesel substitutes on engines, the production costs of each fuel type, and sustainability. Eight hundred Liters (approximately 211 gal.) of E-FAME was supplied by Blue Sun Biodiesel in Missouri. (The fuel was produced with Eversa® Transform, the liquid lipase I mentioned in a previous post.) And, to investigate the influences of the fuel on emissions, experiments were performed using a turbo diesel engine from Volkswagen.

What was the impact on emissions?

HVO operation showed a significant reduction of soot and hydrocarbon emissions. Operating the engine with FAME and E-FAME led to a more complete combustion. This resulted in clearly-reduced emissions of soot, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons when compared to conventional diesel. However, the latter fuels did lead to slightly increased nitric oxide/nitrogen dioxide (NOx) levels when compared to conventional diesel or HVO.

The report went on to suggest that engine settings could be altered to better accommodate FAME and E-FAME and further reduce these unwanted NOx emissions.

In summary, using FAME or E-FAME as a diesel substitute will “enormously decrease” raw exhaust particles and soot. To my knowledge, this is the first time E-FAME has been as thoroughly tested and compared to conventional diesel. Research like this is crucial to protecting the environment and developing alternative fuels. Hat’s off to the University of Rostock for taking the first step.

Click here to read the full report


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Per Munk Nielsen

Per is an innovative scientist working in R&D for Novozymes Oils and Fats, out of Denmark. With 27 years in Novozymes R&D and technical service, Per has extensive experience with enzyme technology development.