VEHICLES travelling between Portsmouth and London have taken part in the UK’s first trial into using hydrotreated vegetable oil as a biofuel for coaches.
The ‘extremely clean’ substance, known as HVO, was used for National Express journeys over a three-month period in a scheme by Scania, Fareham-based Lucketts Travel and Green Biofuels.
Seven coaches used the fuel so they could be compared against seven which did not, with all 14 vehicles, provided by Lucketts Travel, monitored ‘closely’ for engine performance, fuel consumption and oil quality.
This data was compounded by feedback from drivers, passengers and technicians maintaining the coaches.
‘HVO is an extremely clean biofuel produced from vegetable or animal oils and fats or similar waste material,’ said Mark Oliver, UK bus and coach fleet sales general manager for Scania (Great Britain) Limited.
‘HVO not only meets the Euro 6 emissions standard, it also offers a 'well-to-wheel' reduction in carbon dioxide of up to 90 percent.
‘Its properties are extremely similar to those of diesel, except that its calorific value is slightly higher.
‘As such, it is an extremely attractive option for use as a fuel for road vehicles.’
HVO has been certified for 100 per cent use in all of Scania’s Euro 5 and 6 model vehicles and has been dubbed a viable ‘here and now’ solution to travel operators looking to improve their fleets, following the trial.
For ‘extreme’ flexibility, the fuel can even be blended with or replaced by diesel at any time.
Ian Luckett, director of Lucketts Travel, said: ‘With the forthcoming introduction of Ultra Low Emissions Zones and Clean Air Zones around the country, decarbonising long-haul coaches is a key challenge for operators today.
‘We are delighted to be involved in this trial and hope it will stimulate interest and debate within the industry and among the legislators and other stakeholders.
‘For our part we find HVO an extremely attractive possibility as introducing it to the fleet would be relatively straightforward with no modifications or retrofitting required, and are very much looking forward to the outcomes of the trial.’
Full results of the fuel study have not yet been revealed, but Chris Hardy, managing director of National Express Coach, has dubbed the survey ‘industry leading and great news for the coach sector’.
He added: ‘We're excited to be associated with the trial and look forward to seeing the results and the opportunities they may open up.’
HVO is widely available throughout Europe, but is not used as standard in the UK.
The fuel used in the Lucketts National Express trial was produced from used cooking oil and is certified palm oil-free.
It was supplied by Green Biofuels, the UK's sole importer of HVO produced by Finland-based Neste.