Daimler says next-gen biodiesels test well

BERLIN, Germany — A European test of second-generation biodiesel fuels made from hydrotreated vegetable oils showed reduced emissions compared to traditional petroleum-based diesel.

Daimler AG, Deutsche Post DHL, and other transportation and energy presented initial results of a joint pilot test of vehicles running on renewable diesel at an event in Berlin this week, titled "Diesel from renewable resources – A step toward zero-emission transportation?"

For 1 million kilometers so far, the companies have been running 14 Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses using NExBTL renewable diesel under everyday conditions in Germany. The test results have shown reduced emissions, including a 15 percent savings of nitrogen oxides and more than 60 percent decrease in CO2 emissions, when compared to fossil fuels.

The field tests will continue for a three-year period ending in 2011, running the commercial vehicles for a total of 3.3 million kilometers and saving more than 2,000 tons of CO2 emissions. 

"The results from the first year of testing show that the fuel works perfectly in Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses and is tolerated very well by the engines," said Manfred Schuckert, company strategist of emissions and safety for commercial vehicles at Daimler AG.

"This is very important for our customers, because the previously used biodiesel from the so-called first generation of biofuels often leads to more frequent maintenance checks, which in turn leads to higher costs for the vehicle operators."

The field tests can also be used to highlight the issue of CO2 emissions from motor vehicle traffic. "As a global logistics company that operates a large fleet of vehicles, we want to actively support research into biofuels from renewable sources," said Steffen Frankenberg, company strategist at Deutsche Post DHL. "That’s because we think that second- and third-generation biofuels can significantly reduce our carbon footprint."

"In the future we will face the challenging task of having to transport more goods while generating far fewer emissions," said Frankenberg. "We will therefore desperately need alternative fuels, especially fuels that are sustainably produced."

Neste Oil is engaged in research and development with 23 research institutions and universities around the world to develop completely new type of feedstocks for renewable fuels production.

Research work is ongoing, for instance, on fuels made from algae, other microbes and wood residues. 

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