There is no doubt - switching to renewable fuels is one of the keys to reducing the climate impact of the transport industry.
The Volvo Group's ability to produce CO2 neutral vehicles was clearly demonstrated in 2007 when we produced seven demonstration trucks that were adapted to run on seven renewable fuels.
Optimizing combustion technology
The diesel engine is one of the most efficient energy converters available. Much research today aims at optimizing it for the range of renewable fuels which the transport industry is likely to rely on tomorrow.
Research on the best ways in which to utilize renewable energy sources is in progress. We find three alternatives particularly interesting:
Biodiesel is produced by the esterification of vegetable oils. In Europe, the most common raw materials are rapeseed oil and sunflower seed oil.
The characteristics of the second generation biodiesel are very similar to those of fossil diesel. Second generation biodiesel produces very low well to wheel CO2 emissions.
Bio dimethyl ether (DME)
This fuel is produced through the gasification of biomass. The gas formed in that process, synthetic gas, is then catalyzed to produce DME. The gas is handled in liquid form under low pressure.
DME features high energy efficiency, is very efficient from a land use perspective, and produces very low CO2 emissions from well to wheel.