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Volvo's stance on biodiesel

Concern for the environment is one of Volvo Penta's core values, and we are constantly developing our products in order to reduce emissions. Volvo Penta naturally takes a positive view of the introduction of renewable fuels - "biofuels" - that can help to reduce the impact of diesel engines on the environment in the future.

Furthermore, the use of biofuels in the future may lead to a situation where the production of fuels is more sustainable than today. One of the recently introduced biofuels is RME (biodiesel), which is produced from rapeseed oil and methanol. Today, biodiesel is the most common alternative to diesel. According to the European Union's EN590 standard for diesel fuel, it is currently permissible to blend up to 5 percent biodiesel into normal diesel. Accordingly, biodiesel might already be present in the diesel used in the marine sector.

Volvo Penta recommends its customers to operate Volvo Penta's diesel engines only on diesel fuel that conforms to EU standard EN590.

Volvo Penta's diesel engines can be operated on diesel fuel with a higher blend of biodiesel than 5 percent - in other words, a higher proportion than stipulated in the EU standard EN590. If such a fuel is used, the engine's emission levels may increase slightly. The engine will also need more frequent service intervals to avoid excessive wear and shorter lifetime.

Volvo Penta's guarantees do not cover damage caused by too high blends of biodiesel. Volvo Penta makes the following recommendations to customers who wish to use fuel with higher biodiesel content than stated in the EU standard EN590:

  • The biodiesel must be of good quality, which means that it must comply with the EU's EN14214 fuel standard.
  • Biodiesel is an efficient solvent that can, when first used, dissolve constituents in the fuel system. The fuel filter should therefore be changed after a short period of usage.
  • Biodiesel is not a fuel with long-term stability; it can oxidize in the fuel system. The entire fuel system must be emptied and operated on normal diesel before any extended period of still standing, such as during winter storage.
  • Biodiesel has a negative effect on many rubber and plastic materials. Rubber hoses and plastic components in the fuel system must be checked regularly and changed at more frequent intervals than usual to avoid leakage.
  • Biodiesel impairs the lubricating capacity of oil due to its higher boiling point. The intervals for changing lubricating oils and oil filters must be halved compared with normal maintenance intervals.

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    This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue.