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28 February 2022
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Sprint Pro on Biofuel Applications 
Georgia Pratt
Marketing Executive

Unlike fossil fuels, biofuels are man-made fuels created using plant-based renewable resources often known as biomass. As biofuels are renewable, they help to reduce the net amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere from combustion-powered vehicles and other energy users. All petrol and diesel fuels sold in the UK are obliged to contain a certain percentage of biofuel (10% bio ethanol in petrol and 7% biodiesel in diesel) in order to help meet wider emissions targets. 

What is biofuel?  

Different from other renewable energy sources, biomass can be converted directly into liquid fuels known as biofuels. The two most familiar types of biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel, both of which are first-generation biofuel technology.  

Ethanol  

Ethanol (CH3CH2OH) is a renewable fuel that can be produced from a variety of plant materials, collectively known as biomass. Ethanol is an alcohol that is used as a blending agent to replace a percentage of gasoline, making a mixture. It has the added bonusses of reducing carbon monoxide and other smog-forming emissions.  

In the modern world where cleaner fuel is the future, the most common blend is E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline), legally mandated as the composition of unleaded petrol in the UK from September 2021. Some modern vehicles have been designed to run on E85. This is a gasoline-ethanol blend containing between 51% and 85% ethanol, the exact composition being dependent on geography and the season. This is an alternative fuel with much higher ethanol ratio compared to that of regular gasoline. It is sold in approximately 2% of the filling stations in the United States, and overall, roughly 97% of gasoline in the United States contains some ethanol. 

Most of the ethanol is produced from plant starches and sugars, but development is continuing in technologies that would permit the use of cellulose and hemicellulose, a non-edible fibrous material that constitutes the bulk of plant matter, and there are now several commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries currently operational in the United States. The common method for converting biomass into ethanol is through fermentation, when microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and yeast) metabolise plant sugars and produce ethanol. 

Biodiesel  

Biodiesel is a liquid fuel constructed from renewable sources, such as new and used vegetable oils as well as, animal fats. This type of liquid fuel is a cleaner-burning replacement for petroleum-based diesel fuel. Biodiesel is biodegradable and is made through the combination of alcohol and vegetable oil, animal fat, or recycled cooking grease. 

Similar to petroleum-derived diesel, biodiesel is used to fuel compression-ignition (diesel) engines. Biodiesel has the characteristics to be blended with petroleum diesel in any ratio, and then burned as fuel in modern diesel engines. This includes B100 which is pure biodiesel, as well as the most common blend, B20, which contains 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel. 

Are biofuels the future?  

Although biofuels are cleaner than previous fuels, it seems unlikely that biofuels will ever be a complete replacement for petrol and diesel, though they may bridge the gap from previous fuels to future fuels. This is mainly down to the Government aiming higher for the country to be completely carbon neutral by 2050, with electric cars key to removing tailpipe emissions completely, in which Biofuels could help reduce our carbon footprint for now.  

However, a more promising approach to biofuels could be that of synthetic fuels or eFuels. Petrol and diesel are known as ‘hydrocarbons’ as they contain a combination of hydrogen and carbon atoms that make up all oils. Whereas eFuels get their hydrogen from water and carbon from the air, through the combination into structures similar to that of petrol and diesel. Synthetic fuels can be created with renewable energy, and carbon captured during their creation can offset the CO2 emissions when they are burned. Current developments suggest that eFuels may have the potential to store energy that is generated via renewable sources during times of low demand. 

Sprint Pro on biofuel application 

The main requirement is that the oil filter kit is needed rather than the normal kit. The oil kit filter will last through many tests that would block most tighter weaves, but it is still highly effective at preventing moisture ingress into the flue gas analyser itself, where it would cause damage to pump and sensors. Many biofuels are catered for by the Sprint Pro efficiency and safety algorithms, and more will be added as their use becomes significant. Such algorithm updates occur automatically at the annual service as part of the calibration process, meaning the users of Sprint Pro are to some extent futureproofed against changes known and also as yet unknown. 

 

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