Although electric- and hydrogen-powered vehicles are currently at the forefront of the green culture surge, there are several other technologies that offer different fuel and energy solutions. One alternative fuel is biodiesel, which can consist of vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled restaurant grease. Although the renewable biofuel has been around for years, it is still not widely used, so it’s notable that Ford Europe has announced select Transit vans are fit to use commercial Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).
Biofuel has been used to various degrees throughout the past decade. In Europe, an initiative called RecOil aims to promote it by increasing collection and treatment of used vegetable oil. The oils are picked up from a variety of sources, such as schools, restaurants, caterers and personal homes. During the treatment and production process, hydrogen is used as the catalyst, which makes it a cleaner and longer-lasting fuel.
Recent research indicates that using HVO diesel could reduce CO2 tailpipes emissions by 4-6% compared to a traditional diesel. Ford cites a different study that suggests using biodiesel could reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%, when taking into consideration the total environmental impact of extracting, shipping, refining and eventually burning traditional diesel. Ford also claims that using HVO produces less nitrous oxide and particulates, which are linked to various health problems.
Ford approved the use of HVO in its Transit vans with any of the 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel engines. Absolutely no modifications are needed to run on the biofuel. Finding it, however, might prove to be the biggest obstacle. Ford says it is on sale in select gas stations in Europe, «mainly in Scandinavia and the Baltic states.» It is available as pure HVO or as a mix with regular fossil diesel, as blending the two in the tank is perfectly fine. Furthermore, using the biofuel would not affect the vehicle’s normal service and maintenance schedule.