The Volvo Group is touting itself as the first vehicle manufacturer to produce demonstration trucks that can all be driven without emitting any carbon dioxide (CO2). What they really meant to say is that their demonstration trucks, when run on any of seven alternative and biofuels, do not increase CO2 levels in the environment because the fuels are produced from renewable materials.
The seven Volvo FM trucks are equipped with Volvo’s own 9-litre engines that have been specially modified by Volvo engineers to illustrate the possibilities of carbon dioxide-free transport. The trucks can be operated on: biodiesel, biogas combined with biodiesel, ethanol/methanol, DME, synthetic diesel and hydrogen gas combined with biogas.
Biodiesel is produced by the esterification of vegetable oils. Rapeseed oil and sunflower seed oil are the most common raw materials in Europe.
Biogas is a gaseous fuel that is largely comprised of hydrocarboned methane. Biogas can be extracted in sewage treatment works, at rubbish dumps and at other sites at which biodegradable materials are found.
Biogas + biodiesel
Biogas + biodiesel are combined in separate tanks and injection systems. A small percentage (10 per cent) of biodiesel or synthetic diesel is used for achieving compression ignition. The biogas in this alternative is in a cooled and liquid form that increases its range.
DME – Dimethyl ether
Dimethyl ether is a gas that is handled in liquid form under low pressure. DME is produced through the gasification of biomass.
Methanol is produced through the gasification of biomass and ethanol through the fermentation of crops rich in sugar and starch.
Synthetic Diesel is a mixture of synthetically manufactured hydrocarbon produced through the gasification of biomass. Synthetic diesel can be mixed with conventional diesel fuel without problem.
Hydrogen gas + Biogas
This vehicle operates on a combination of hydrogen gas and biogas whereby the hydrogen gas is mixed in small volumes with compressed biogas (8% volume). Higher mixture levels are also possible. The hydrogen gas can be produced through the gasification of biomass or electrolysis of water with renewable electricity.