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Rolls-Royce okays use of sustainable fuels in its diesel engines

Rolls-Royce okays use of sustainable fuels in its diesel engines
Photo courtesy of Rolls Royce plc

Rolls-Royce plc has approved a range of EN15940-certified synthetic diesel fuels in power generation applications for its Series 4000 and Series 1600 diesel engines.

Following successful testing, including in the field, both types of engines can use a range of sustainable fuels including Biomass to Liquid (BtL), Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) and Power to Liquid (PtL) fuels such as e-diesel. They can all be used to replace conventional diesel fuel.

Based in London, England, Rolls-Royce, which pioneers cutting-edge technologies, focuses on three core markets: Civil Aerospace, Power Systems, and Defence.

โ€œThere is already a lot of interest in HVO in particular from many customers in the energy industry and data center business, who want to improve their carbon footprint,โ€ said Tobias Ostermaier, president of the Stationary Power Solutions business unit at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. โ€œThe results from pilot customers show a significant reduction in greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions by using HVO instead of fossil diesel in their gensets.โ€

Last year, Rolls-Royce pledged to prove its most popular in-production engines, including the Series 4000, can be used with sustainable fuels by 2023. 

HVO use significantly reduces CO2, nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions, according to Rolls-Royce.

Waste vegetable and animal fats, and used cooking oils, can be used as base materials for HVO. They are converted into hydrocarbons by means of a catalytic reaction with the addition of hydrogen. Through this process, the fats and vegetable oils can supplement petroleum-based diesel fuel as a blended product or replace it completely. The advantages of HVO are cleaner combustion with a reduction in particulate emissions of up to 80%, nitrogen oxide emissions by an average of 8% and โ€“ provided the manufacturing process and logistics make use of renewable energy โ€“ CO2 emissions by up to 90% compared to traditional diesel. Because HVO fuel is produced from renewable raw materials, its production, transport, and combustion generate only about as many greenhouse gases as were absorbed by the plants during the growth of the biomass.

Convincing performance without engine and system modifications

The tests conducted by Rolls-Ryoce confirmed that mtu engines using HVO perform equally as well as engines using diesel fuel in terms of maximum power, load acceptance and fuel consumption. HVO is a drop-in fuel, which means that there are no adaptations needed to the diesel plant infrastructure, hardware or software in order for it to be used. In addition, the storage stability of this synthetic fuel is significantly better than that of biodiesel, making it even more attractive to operators of emergency power systems.

Target: 35% greenhouse gas savings by 2030 with new fuels and mtu technologies

As part of its sustainability program, Rolls-Royce announced last year that it would realign the Power Systems product portfolio so that by 2030, new fuels and mtu technologies can save 35% greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 2019 levels. The company, which is already successfully operating an mtu fuel cell system, has established a clear roadmap for the introduction of hydrogen engines and is now progressively releasing further engines that can run on sustainable fuels in more applications.