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Volvo develops CO2-free trucks
Availability of bio-fuels stands in way of full-scale production

BRUSSELS, Belgium Volvo Group has developed seven carbon dioxide (CO2)-free trucks which operate on a variety of ...

Volvo has developed seven CO2-free trucks that use a variety of different bio-fuels.
Volvo has developed seven CO2-free trucks that use a variety of different bio-fuels.

BRUSSELS, Belgium Volvo Group has developed seven carbon dioxide (CO2)-free trucks which operate on a variety of different bio-fuels. The trucks were introduced to the trade press at an event in Brussels last week.

All trucks feature Volvos 9-litre diesel engines which have been modified to operate on different types of bio-fuels. Unfortunately, Volvo Group said alternative fuel manufacturers have not yet made the bio-fuels widely available.

Volvo is part of the climate problem, but with these trucks we show that carbon dioxide-free transports are a possibility and that we as a vehicle manufacturer both can and will be part for the solution to the climate issue, announced Leif Johansson, CEO of the Volvo Group.

Volvo acknowledged that 14% of total global CO2 emissions are created by the transport sector with about 10% of that coming from road transport. The company said it in the process of reducing the impact its trucks have on the environment from the manufacturing process right through their operational life.

As one of the worlds largest manufacturers of heavy trucks, diesel engines and buses, the Volvo Group is part of the climate problem, Johansson said. But environmental issues are one of the areas which we have assigned the very highest priority, and based on our resources and knowledge, we both can and will be part of the solution.

The bio-fuels needed to power the new family of CO2-free Volvo trucks include: biodiesel; biogas; biogas combined with biodiesel; ethanol/methanol; DME; synthetic diesel; and hydrogen gas combined with biogas.

Biodiesel: Produced by the esterification of vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil and sunflower seed oil.

Biogas: A gaseous fuel comprised largely of hydrocarboned methane. It can be extracted from sewage and landfill sites.

Biogas and biodiesel: A combination of biogas and biodiesel, housed in separate tanks and used in separate injection systems.

DME (Dimethyl ether): A gas that is handled in liquid form under low pressure, produced through the gasification of biomass.

Ethanol/methanol: Methanol is produced through the gasification of biomass and ethanol through the fermentation of crops rich in sugar and starch.

Synthetic diesel: A mixture of synthetically-manufactured hydrocarbon produced through the gasification of biomass. It can be mixed with conventional diesel fuel.

Hydrogen gas and biogas: Hydrogen gas is mixed in small volumes with compressed biogas.

The diesel engine is an extremely efficient energy converter that is perfectly suited to many different renewable fuels, liquid or gaseous, explained Jan-Eric Sundgren, senior vice-president, public and environmental affairs with Volvo Group. With our know-how in engine technology and our large volumes, we can manufacture engines for several different renewable fuels, and also create possibilities for carbon-dioxide-free transports in such other product areas as buses, construction equipment and boats.

The major stumbling block is the lack of availability of the bio-fuels being explored by Volvo. The company said it can be commercially producing trucks using any one of the seven bio-fuels within 24 months of an announcement that the fuel will be widely available.

Volvo said it is encouraged by the progress being made with second generation renewable fuels and the opportunities made possible through gasification.

Gasification is a promising line that may lead to a significantly larger substitution than todays technology, said Johansson. Our own history has taught us that much of what we once thought impossible we have since been able to solve a few years later. This can be applied to such important areas as energy efficiency and exhaust emission control. I am an optimist and believe in a similar trend in carbon-dioxide-free transport.

For a more detailed look at Volvos CO2-free truck technology and manufacturing process, pick up the November issue of Truck News or Truck West.

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Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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