HVO Fuel FAQ: Common Questions & Answers

HVO fuel is a renewable synthetic diesel that can help the UK achieve its 2050 net-zero target for greenhouse gas emissions. At Beesley Fuels, we supply HVO to a wide range of businesses including those in the transport, agriculture and power generation industries to provide a fast and simple solution to reduce their environmental impact. But how does HVO fuel reduce net greenhouse gas emissions? This and other common questions are answered below.

Common HVO Fuel Questions

  1. What is HVO fuel?
  2. What is the production process for HVO fuel?
  3. What can HVO be used as an alternative for?
  4. What is HVO commonly used for?
  5. What is FAME
  6. Why choose HVO over diesel and biodiesel?
  7. What does HVO’s specification look like?
  8. How efficient is HVO?
  9. Can HVO be used in boats?
  10. Can you mix HVO fuel and diesel?
  11. What are the advantages of second generation biofuels?
  12. Will HVO fuel harm engines?
  13. What is the price of HVO?
  14. Are there bulk quantities of HVO fuel available?
  15. Is HVO fuel toxic?

What is HVO fuel?

HVO, or hydrotreated vegetable oil, is a paraffinic, second-generation sustainable and renewable diesel fuel. It’s produced from completely renewable raw materials such as waste animal fats and vegetable oils. In addition, HVO is 100% hydrocarbon (0% oxygen) allowing it to be used and handled as a drop-in alternative to fossil diesel.

Its clean-burning properties cut particulate production, helping to prolong its lifetime in storage and improve engine cleanliness. The lack of fossil carbon within the product results in a 90% reduction in net CO2 emissions.

Renewable HVO fuel

What is the production process for HVO?

HVO fuel is produced through a highly controlled hydrotreatment process of renewable materials to form a high-quality paraffinic product that’s almost chemically identical to fossil diesel, but with several added benefits.

The production process removes impurities and the main factors that cause fuel degradation, increasing its shelf life to up to 10 years – provided safe storage and a well-maintained tank.

The modern hydrotreatment process results in:

  • A more efficient burn than regular diesel and biodiesel
  • Cleaner combustion
  • Reduced soot in engines and exhaust systems
  • Aromatic, sulphur and metal-free
  • Up to a 90% reduction in net CO2 emissions

What can HVO be used as an alternative for?

HVO fuel is a direct drop-in diesel alternative. It meets the EN15940 standard, ASTM D975 and conforms to the Fuel Quality Directive 2009/30/EC Annex II and has been approved by a large number of automotive manufacturers. With a large number of OEM approvals, it can be used in a wide range of modern diesel engines, off-road machinery and generators without voiding warranties.

Ease of use is a primary concern when considering any new fuel and to make the switch to HVO fuel, in most cases, you don’t need to modify existing engines, machinery, logistics channels and storage equipment, you can just fill up your tank on top of existing stocks.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions2

What is HVO fuel commonly used for?

HVO fuel is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its green and logistical benefits – particularly as it reduces net CO2 emissions by up to 90% and hugely reduces NOx, PM and CO emissions

HVO is commonly used in:

  • Portable generators at events, festivals and film productions
  • Commercial boilers
  • Diesel-powered fleets
  • Agricultural tractors and machinery
  • Boats and vessels operating within inland waterways

What is FAME?

As a first-generation biofuel, FAME diesel is more at risk from problems in cold weather, as well as cold filter plugging and water and biological attack – all of which lead to higher incidences of diesel contamination and tank corrosion. What’s more, it produces a significant amount of NOx and particulate emissions which are harmful to the environment and public health.

As governments try to tackle CO2 emissions, they are increasing the proportion of 1st generation biodiesel added to this fuel. This means that all of the problems highlighted above will become more prevalent and users of diesel fuel may experience issues. HVO fuel meets the governmental bio requirements without the need for FAME addition, therefore maintaining trouble-free operation for the user.

Why choose HVO over diesel and biodiesel?

To help tackle the environmental and logistical problems associated with fossil fuels, paraffinic diesel fuels – like HVO – have been developed to overcome the hurdles of their first-generation counterparts.

HVO fuel is an environmentally friendly alternative to regular FAME diesel and biodiesel, but with up to a 10-year shelf life as opposed to around 1 year for diesel.

Though similar to regular diesel in terms of energy content, density, viscosity and flash point, HVO presents many benefits over white diesel, such as:

  • A significant particulate matter (PM) reduction
  • Cleaner burn reduces greenhouse gas emissions and makes it suitable for use in “clean air zones”
  • Superior cold temperature performance means better cold start properties in winter
  • Higher cetane number (up to 90) compared to 50 for mineral diesel plus zero sulphur and aromatics
  • Better combustion, filterability and cold temperature resistance than other diesel products

This all results in a greatly extended lifespan of up to 10 years compared to 1 for mineral diesel, easier maintenance for storing HVO and a clean-burning fuel which will help reduce your carbon footprint.

10 year shelf life

What does HVO’s specification look like?

Parameter Units Test Method Specification Typical Value
AppearanceASTM D4176-2Clear and brightClear and bright
Densitykg/lEN ISO 121850.770 – 0.7900.780
Viscositymm2/sEN ISO 31042.0 – 4.02.8
Sulphur contentmg/kgEN ISO 208845 maximum<5
Flash pointºCEN ISO 271961 minimum>70
Lubricity/SL BOCLEgASTM D6078>3500
Biogenic carbon by C14% m/mASTM D6866 A&C/EN16640A96% min>96%
Polycyclic Aromatics (PAH)% v/vSS 1551160.02 maximum<0.02
Ash Content% m/mEN ISO 62450.001 maximum<0.001
Initial Boiling PointºCEN ISO 3405180 minimum>180
Recovered at 250ºC% v/vEN ISO 3405<65<20
Recovered at 350ºC% v/vEN ISO 340585 minimum>98
95% recovered atºCEN ISO 3405360 maximum>95
Cetane NumberEN 1519570 minimum80
Cetane IndexEN ISO 426470 minimum80
CFPPºCEN 116Meets EN15940 Grade E
Carbon Residue (on 10% distillation residue)% m/mEN ISO 103700.1 maximum<0.01
Oxidation Stabilityg/m3EN ISO 1220525 maximum<5
Copper Strip Corrosion 3hr/50oCEN ISO 21601 maximum1a
Net Heat of CombustionMJ/kgASTM D480942 minimum44
Particulate Mattermg/kgEN 1266210 maximum<1
Lubricity/HFRRμmEN ISO 12156-1400 maximum350
Renewable Diesel% v/v100100
Fatty Acid Methyl Ester% v/v00
Total Aromatics% m/mEN 129161 maximum<1

How efficient is HVO?

HVO fuel offers vast savings on greenhouse gas potential of your operation with no changes needed to your engine or infrastructure. 

  • For every 1,000-litres of diesel burned, you will produce 3.6tonnes of GHG CO2
  • For every 1,000-litres of HVO fuel burned, you will produce 195kg GHG CO2

HVO has a relatively high cetane number (greater than 70) than fossil diesel (around 51), which means that it’s an extremely efficient fuel. The cetane number refers to how well the fuel burns in the combustion chamber. So a higher cetane number means that the fuel will ignite faster, resulting in improved engine performance and reduced levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

Can HVO be used in boats?

Many sailors currently use red diesel or white diesel in their vessel, however, both fuels can cause contamination and engine problems. Since FAME is present in fossil diesel, this accelerates the rate at which diesel bug grows which can block filters, wear injectors, corrode tanks and cause engine failure, especially in wet environments. HVO has none of these problems thanks to its highly controlled production process and has been approved by many marine manufacturers such as VolvoPenta.

Can you mix HVO fuel and diesel?

HVO fuel is fully miscible with mineral diesel. This means you can mix the two fuels together and top up your current diesel stocks with HVO straight away. Please note, some of the benefits of HVO may be lost due to mineral diesel’s properties. Therefore, when feasible, we suggest you start your HVO journey with a clean tank to ensure its long lifespan and high-quality features.

What are the advantages of second generation biofuels?

Second-generation biofuels tackle the operational and performance problems of conventional diesel and earlier generation biofuels:

  • Uphold/improve net CO2 emission profile of regular biofuels
  • Offer end-use quality compared to existing sulphur-free fossil fuels
  • Compatible with existing infrastructure, vehicle and plant technology
  • Don’t react with water and therefore are not eaten by diesel bug
  • Adhere to bio content requirements due to zero FAME content
  • Offer superior environmental credentials available from liquid fuels
  • Exceed lubricity requirements of EN 590 and ASTM D975
  • Compatible with fossil fuels and supply chain
  • Enhance emission profile from E590 optimised engines and offer a forum for further development of CN engines

Will HVO fuel harm engines?

No, HVO fuel can be used in almost all diesel engines with little or no modification required, including:

  • FPT
  • MTU
  • FORD
  • Daimler

What is the price of HVO?

HVO fuel is a premium fuel so its upfront cost is a little higher than mineral diesel, however, the long-term cost benefits far outweigh the initial outlay. The hydrotreatment production process removes all impurities from the fuel which significantly increases its lifespan in storage to around 10 years, considering good maintenance and storage. You will still need to regularly check your fuel; however, the risk of contamination and therefore costly fuel replacements is greatly reduced.

Are there bulk quantities of HVO fuel available?

Previously, HVO fuel has been hard to obtain in bulk, however, Beesley Fuels have invested in an industrial-sized stock of the renewable fuel to help businesses in the UK reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to achieving the government’s 2050 target.

Where can I buy HVO fuel?

Beesley Fuels can supply HVO fuel directly to your site, in whatever quantity you require – from bulk 36,000 litres to single IBC supplies.

Is HVO fuel toxic?

HVO fuel is not toxic, it is an odourless and biodegradable fuel made from 100% renewable materials. It has been scientifically tested and deemed a perfectly clean and safe to use fuel.

If you have any further questions about HVO fuel, the environmentally-friendly, fossil-free diesel alternative or would like to enquire about our HVO fuel delivery services. Give our HVO fuel experts a call today on 0330 123 1144 to learn more and start reducing your emissions today.

* Beesley Fuels HVO fuel complies with BS EN 15940 being the British Standard for paraffinic diesel fuel which is a new generation of cleaner transport fuel for use in road vehicles. If your vehicle is still within the manufacturer`s warranty or if you have taken out mechanical breakdown insurance, we recommend you check with the manufacturer or insurer that use of our product will not affect your cover. We cannot be held responsible for any issues with your vehicle connected to its age or pre-existing condition.

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