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Volvo partners EU to pulp bio-fuel testing

Volvo partners EU to test new generation of bio-fuel produced with waste from pulp industry

September 21, 2009

Volvo is testing a new generation of bio-fuel produced with waste from the pulp industry.

Known as Bio-DME, the di-methyl-ether fuel has been the subject of Volvo’s own testing since 2007, but a new program beginning next year will partner with the European Union, the Swedish Energy Agency, representatives of the transport industry and fuel companies.

Bio-DME is produced from black liquor, an energy-rich, highly viscous by-product of the pulp industry, which is converted through a gasification process into a clean and energy efficient fuel.

“From the holistic viewpoint, Bio-DME is one of the most promising second-generation biofuels,” says Lars Mårtensson, Environmental Affairs Director at Volvo Trucks.

“Bio-DME provides both high energy efficiency and low emissions of greenhouse gases. We value these two properties particularly highly as we analyse various possible alternative fuels.”

Compared with a conventional engine, Bio-DME as a fuel in a diesel engine provides the same high efficiency rating but a lower noise level, Volvo says, and generates 95 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions compared to diesel.

The three-year test program will cover the whole process from manufacturing and distribution to the filling process, with fuel company Preem building filling stations so the trucks can be used in regular regional and local operations.

Inspections and evaluations of the fuel, truck technology, customer perceptions and distribution system will all be taken into account to see if Bio-DME is a viable alternative to diesel fuel, Volvo says.

Volvo hopes Bio-DME has the potential for replacing just over 50 percent of diesel oil in heavy road transport by 2030, using both natural gas and various types of biomass.

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