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HVO 90% less CO2 than Kerosene?

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Just seen an article on the BBC news, claiming a village in Cornwall has all converted to HVO, in other words recycled used cooking oil, instead of Kerosene, and claiming 80 to 90% reduction in CO2.


Is this true?  A damned lie? Or something else.


HVO is still an oil, it would still burn much like Kerosene, so will it really reduce CO2 emissions?


OR is it greenwash?  

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My point is, whatever the fuel, it shoves CO2 up the chimney.  Exactly what we are trying to stop doing.


It's no good saying it's "good" CO2, the atmosphere cannot tell the difference.


As long as "they" tell us this it good (must be the same they as behind DRAX) then you cannot blame people for taking up this sort of scheme, and they will be misguided into thinking they have "gone green" and don't need to bother insulating their homes of finding another heating source that does not emit CO2 (whether good or bad)


To me it just shows that "they" either don't understand the issue, or they recognise we have a CO2 reduction target to achieve and this is indeed a way to bend the rules to say "we" have achieved the target.


It does not inspire me with much confidence that anyone in charge actually has a clue about the problem.

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With HVO also being eyed up by rail and shipping, there’s not going to be enough HVO from waste product to go around. If they start producing vegetable oils purely for HVO then the carbon impact will dramatically increase and the argument falls apart. Either way, I would agree it has no place in domestic heating systems.

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I agree waste used cooking oil needs something to be done with it.  If turning it into heating or transport fuel is an option, I don't disagree with that, it cuts down the disposal costs and we should always try and maximise the use of everything we use.


My gripe is purely with the claim that using it thus produces less CO2 than if a fossil fuel had been burned.


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You are right.


Collecting and converting old cooking oil to diesel is good. Better than dumping it.


However the diesel itself is then a small part of the supply and no greener.


I beleve it can be sold at a premium to businesses who want to shout about how they use this stuff.

Or 'our buses run on chip fat"....an excuse for not going electric or hydrogen.


I've also seen the argument used in planning applications, as if a tanker of chip fat diesel is any better for the streets of london than one from saudi oil.


The carbon is still burnt. 

Of course its better than dumping the old oil. But is it better than incinrating it for electric power.....i dont know.


It's an expensive conversion process with explosion risks,  and results in some nasty by-products too.

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1 hour ago, ProDave said:

village in Cornwall


Not just any hamlet.

It is where the Met Office have the weather station.


As for 90% CO2 reduction, all depends on how it is accounted for.

Was the cutting down and burning of an Indonesian rain forest, to make way for a palm oil plantation taken into account?

Was the long term effects of all carbon based combustion, regardless of source taken a into account?

Was the difference in viable non combustion energy sources used as a comparison.


Knowing the company that supply the oil, and sponsored the transition, I know it is green washing.

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56 minutes ago, ProDave said:

I agree waste used cooking oil needs something to be done with it. 

Can be turned into polymers, longer term sequestration that way.

It could also be burnt in an waste to energy plant, without processing. That would be even more efficient, and improve local air quality.

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The reason I was involved, was a LA thinking of running their buses on their own diesel from cooking oil.

However they, probably rightly, decided it wasn't so obviously green as first thought*, and to drop the idea.

As discussed above, it's easy to alter the parameters to prove non- sustainability or Green-wash 

* I and others involved probably talked ourselves out of a nice project, but for the greater good.

Interesting though... and if you want to know how to build around an explosive operation (the roof mustn't land in a suburb) , let me know.

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Found this on a blog…




HVO derived from waste cooking oil and fat has a verified carbon emission factor of 0.036kg/kWh, compared to 0.298kg/kWh for kerosene. This is based on the latest edition of the government’s Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy Rating of Dwellings (SAP 10.2).

Edited by MikeGrahamT21
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1 hour ago, MikeGrahamT21 said:

HVO derived from waste cooking oil and fat has a verified carbon emission factor of 0.036kg/kWh, compared to 0.298kg/kWh for kerosene.

I would love to know the convoluted thinking that came up with that.


They are obviously not suggesting that the actual burning of the fuel actually creates 1/10 the CO2 that burning the same quantity of fossil fuel diesel or kerosene does.


So they must somehow be counting it as a boifuel  and falling into the same old "The CO2 was only just removed from the atmosphere so it's carbon neutral to let it back" nonsense.


If that is the logic then sorry but we are doomed.   I just can't understand how people fall for that, other than if they don't actually care about the outcome, they just view it as an easy way to comply and claim to have reduces CO2.

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I have got to write a specification of requirements for an offshore oil rig looking at this very thing. HVO, or hydrotreated vegetable oil to give it the full title.


Basically you take any oil vegetable, fish or animal derived, it is basically treated to get rid of debris and treated in a similar manner to crude oil to break down the molecular structure.  Then as it's a substance that absorbs CO2 (before being cropped) it's treated as low CO2 fuel source, so green wash. Particulates and other nasties are just the same as diesel.


You can use anywhere, you use diesel.


Lot of downsides

Not enough used material available, so raw oil gets used, the HVO prime ingredients are palm oil derived, mostly shipped from Malaysia, palm oil plant isn't that great at soaking up CO2 apparently either.


Crops get diverted to making fuel instead of feeding people. Food price increases


Just as much CO2 gets dumped to atmosphere. Move the co2 from Malaysia to the UK.


Just more green wash, kicking the can down the road.

Edited by JohnMo
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@JohnMo that's good info.

I've met lots of people giving lectures on green fuel, and lots extolling their "green" buildings. I can't recall any having the faintest clue about the realities, or anything varying from the script. Sadly, many of these worked for quangos influencing policy.

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1 hour ago, JohnMo said:

Just as much CO2 gets dumped to atmosphere. Move the co2 from Malaysia to the UK.

Yes, and this is the problem.

And huge environmental damage where it is produced.


58 minutes ago, saveasteading said:

I've met lots of people giving lectures on green fuel, and lots extolling their "green" buildings. I can't recall any having the faintest clue about the realities, or anything varying from the script. Sadly, many of these worked for quangos influencing policy.

When I did my degree in Renewables, I wrote about the CO2 problem that biofuels create.

That was 18 years ago.  I got marked down quite badly because the lecturer 'could not follow my maths'.

He stood to be a local Green Party MP.


It really is dodgy carbon accounting and double counting.


If it must be burnt, pour it untreated into a fluidised bed coal station, no point pissing about cleaning it up (which is quite energy intensive at it is heated to boil the water off), then chemically modifying it to remove the glycerine (which then needs disposing off), then cleaning it again in distilled/demineralised water (as if that just falls out the sky), then boiling off the water again, then mixing with ethanol.

Package it up and transport it to end user.


(expletive deleted)ing nonsense like a lot of 'recycling' or second usage.

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The chemical process for HVO is different from bio diesel. Sorry long read below - cut and paste.


HVO is produced by hydrogenation and hydrocracking of vegetable oils and animal fats using hydrogen

and catalysts at high temperatures and pressures. In this hydrotreating process, oxygen is removed

from the feedstocks consisting of triglycerides and/or fatty acids. The resulting products consist of

straight-chained hydrocarbons (paraffins) with varying properties and molecular size depending on the

feedstock characteristics and the process conditions. The conversion usually takes place in two stages:

hydrotreatment followed by hydrocracking/isomerization. The hydrotreatment typically takes place

between 300 – 390°C. For treatment of triglycerides, propane is a typical by-product.


Hydrotreatment reaction for fatty acids

RCOOH + 2H2 -> R-H + 2H2O

Hydrotreatment reaction for triglycerides (typically vegetable oils)

C3H5(RCOO)3 + 12H2 -> C3H8 + 3RCH3 + 6H2O

Firstly, hydrogen is added to double bonds in the renewable feedstock. Thereafter, more hydrogen is

added to remove propane by cleaving the triglycerides to fatty acids. Lastly, the fatty acids are converted to hydrocarbons by hydrodeoxygenation (removing oxygen as water) and/or decarboxylation (removing oxygen as carbon dioxide). Thereafter, the hydrocarbons are converted to a quality that meets the end-user criteria, for example conventional petroleum fuel criteria by isomerization and

cracking treatment.

The production of HVO is well-developed at industrial scale. The investment cost for HVO facilities are

generally higher than for biodiesel production plants (FAME production from vegetable oils). The

hydrogen used in the HVO production today mainly comes from fossil sources.

HVO can be produced from any kind of vegetable oil and fats consisting of triglycerides and fatty acids.

Some examples of feedstocks are rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, palm oil, waste

cooking oil, tall oil, and animal fats. Thereby, the process is flexible to convert a wide range of low-

quality waste and residue materials to hydrocarbon based drop-in fuels. All HVO must fulfil the

sustainability criteria stated by the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED). The vegetable oils used (i.e.

triglycerides) are also used as feedstocks for producing FAME (fatty acid methyl esters) biodiesel.

Compared to FAME, combustion of HVO in engines generally gives lower NOx emissions and reduced

issues of poor cold properties (e.g. flow properties), storage instability and aging of the fuel. HVO is a

renewable paraffin with similar combustion properties as other renewable paraffins such as Fischer-

Tropsch liquids, which are produced via biomass gasification and chemical synthesis.


HVO can be produced in dedicated facilities which produce 100% HVO, or it can be co-processed with

fossil oil in refineries. In co-processing, biobased feeds of typically 5-10 % are blended with fossil feeds.

Higher blends of biobased material are also used, for example by Preem in Sweden. In co-processing,

the biobased components are fractionated in different refinery lines and end up as multiple products.

The HVO process can also be modified to produce renewable kerosene, for example for the jet fuel


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HVO in a domestic situation where other options exist, should be a no go.


Not mentioned above is shelf life. Bio biesel has a short shelf life due to the methanol added. HVO has an unlimited shelf life


However I can see the viability for diesel driven fire pumps and emergency generator, where batteries would not be a viable option. Your options are quite limited, you could burn hydrocarbon diesel or veg based alternative. On a global scale, overall CO2 released is on a different magnitude. But the whole CO2 profile needs to be taken into account, pre used oil should be the feedstock not virgin oils.


Question - anyone know what happens to used veggie oils at the end of their normal life?

If it's incineration, which is worse incinerator with little or no useful function or using to put out possible fires or providing electric to keep the lights on in an offshore environment?

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15 minutes ago, JohnMo said:

The chemical process for HVO is different from bio diesel

Sorry, nodded off and woke up to a nightmare. Thought I was back at school doing chemistry lessons.

Then realised I was still awake.

I did not realise it was so different from making biodiesel from waste fats.

Sounds more energy intensive.

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4 minutes ago, JohnMo said:

Question - anyone know what happens to used veggie oils at the end of their normal life

Ours got taken away and sold to Mitchell and Webber.

In the olden days it went to  farms, but swine fever, BSE and foot and mouth put a stop to that.

Then it got dumped into landfill, or down the normal drains. Palm oil put a stop to that as it is a solid when cold, like beef dripping.

We had paperwork for it shown how much was taken away.

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I think the thing "they" miss from this "good carbon because it has only just been captured" thing is we are NOT ever going to meet true zero.  We will only ever, at a push, meet net zero if we can capture and long term store some CO2 from the atmosphere.


So carbon capture is essential.


So our waste vegetable oil that has been used for cooking, it has served it's purpose.  So rather than waste a lot of energy processing it so we can burn it to release that CO2 again.  Why not accept it is already a good source of captured carbon and pump it, untreated, into a disused worked out oil well?  That is a damned good underground storage option where the carbon can be stored for a very very very long time.


Instead we have this hair brained idea to burn it in the mistake belief it is carbon neutral, which then leaves someone else the problem of how can we capture and store some carbon so we can achieve net zero?


The same goes for wood.  Felling it, moving it halfway around the world and burning it on an industrial scale claiming it is neutral is bonkers.  Fell it as it is needed to make something long lasting, like houses and the insulation for them.  That would be another good and easy carbon capture means.


Someone needs to challenge nonsense if we are going to stand a chance.

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9 minutes ago, ProDave said:

Someone needs to challenge nonsense if we are going to stand a chance.

They are on it.


EU plan for cutting emissions from planes could end up increasing them

New legislation that would see planes forced to use "sustainable aviation fuel" might actually end up increasing emissions, depending on which fuels are included

By Michael Le Page

27 April 2022



Landing plane

A plane landing at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Proposed European Union aviation regulations could see greenhouse gas emissions from flying increase, even while they are claimed to be sustainable, if some nations get their way.

The ReFuelEU regulations now being negotiated would require commercial flights in the EU to start using “sustainable aviation fuels”, with the proportion added gradually rising from 2 per cent in 2025 to 63 per cent by 2050. But the definition of “sustainable aviation fuels” is currently up for discussion – and may end up including fuels that lead to an increase in emissions.

Under the original proposal put forward by the European Commission, sustainable aviation fuels would consist mainly of advanced biofuels derived from waste as well as synthetic fuels created using renewable energy. Biofuels made from food and animal feed wouldn’t count.

Overall, this is good, says Chelsea Baldino at the International Council on Clean Transportation, a non-profit research organisation. But several suggested amendments to the legislation widen the definition of sustainable aviation fuels to include food-based biofuels, she says.

That is a problem because such biofuels use land that is needed to grow food for people or farm animals to eat. To maintain food supplies, more land would have to be cleared for agriculture around the world. If the emissions from these indirect effects on land use are counted, they “could negate some or all of the [greenhouse gas] emission savings of individual biofuels”, a 2019 European Commission report states.



And it isn’t just about the climate. The loss of habitat is the main driver of biodiversity loss around the world. “The main message is that there should not be any food and feedstock biofuels,” says Baldino.

Food-based biofuels also push up food prices, hitting the poorest people hardest. “There is competition between land for fuel and land for food,” says Ciarán Cuffe, a member of the European Parliament, who is part of the Green group. “Particularly in light of the war in Ukraine, we must prioritise land for food.”

Another proposed amendment is that only biofuels that reduce emissions by at least 55 per cent should be eligible. While that sounds good, the proposed method for calculating emission reductions excludes indirect land-use effects, says Baldino.

“The devil is in the details when it comes to biofuels. Some do more harm than good,” says Matteo Mirolo at Transport & Environment, which campaigns for cleaner transport. “It’s very important that ReFuelEU gives the right signal and supports only the most sustainable biofuels.”

While biofuels made from waste such as used cooking oil can provide genuine reductions in greenhouse emissions, there are limits to the amount of waste available.



“We simply don’t have the resources to create the quantity of biofuel needed to keep up with the rocketing demand,” says Cuffe.

This can lead to fraud. For instance, Cuffe says it appears that some biofuels sold as being made from used cooking oil are actually being made partly from fresh palm oil

For these reasons, Cuffe, Baldino and Mirolo would all like to see caps imposed on the quantities of biofuels allowed.

Instead of biofuels, Cuffe thinks ReFuelEU should prioritise the use of e-kerosene made using renewable energy, electrolysis and direct air capture of carbon dioxide. Companies are poised to ramp up production if policy-makers send a clear signal to investors, he says.

ReFuelEU should also apply to private jets, not just commercial flights, says Cuffe. Negotiations on the wording will continue until the autumn, he says, and the final outcome is hard to predict.

“The definition of sustainable aviation remains a hugely divisive topic and positions among member states vary greatly,” an EU official told New Scientist. Discussions are still ongoing, the official said, and the European Council hasn’t yet reached a common position.




UK and Germany could lower fuel and food prices by cutting biofuels

The G7 group of nations reportedly rejected a proposal from the UK and Germany to lower biofuel production, but the two European nations could still go it alone

By Michael Le Page

28 June 2022




Grain used during a Greenpeace protest earlier this month in Germany against the production of biofuel from food crops

Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters/Alamy


To help ease soaring food and fuel prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK and Germany called for a temporary reduction in biofuel production at a meeting of the G7 group of nations on Monday. While this was reportedly rejected by the US and Canada, the UK and Germany could still have a big impact if they decide to unilaterally reduce the amount of biofuels they use.

“The UK or Germany could just go it alone,” says Dustin Benton at Green Alliance, a UK-based environmental think tank.

In many countries, ethanol made from foods such as wheat is blended with petrol and sold as, say, E10 or E15 fuel depending on the ethanol percentage. Some diesel is also made from vegetable oils.

Because Ukraine was a major exporter of wheat and sunflower oil, the war has caused prices of these commodities to soar, causing more hardship for those struggling to pay for food. As New Scientist reported in March, so much food is now turned into ethanol and biodiesel that if the US and Europe cut biofuel production, it could more than compensate for the loss of exports from Ukraine.

The US and Canada are reported to have rejected the calls to cut biofuels on the grounds that it would undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions and also lead to higher fuel prices. Neither argument stands up, say experts.

In the US, ethanol currently costs as much as petrol, says Tim Searchinger at Princeton University, so reducing ethanol production would have minimal or no impact on costs at the pump. But cutting biofuel production would have a big effect on food prices, he says, which depend on the expectations of markets as well as the actual supply.

“It sends a signal,” Searchinger says.


As for undermining efforts to limit global warming, many studies show that if the full impacts of growing food to turn into fuels are counted, most biofuels only slightly reduce emissions or even increase them.

“Biofuels have never been a viable means of carbon reduction,” says Jason Hill at the University of Minnesota. In addition, land use changes to grow the required crops can also harm biodiversity, he says.

Benton says the opposition of the US is really to do with domestic politics, as the country has strong lobbying groups representing farmers and biofuel-related industries. Especially with mid-term elections coming up in November, no president would want to lose voters by cutting biofuel production, he says.

But for the UK government, cutting biofuels may be more appealing. “There are obvious political opportunities here,” says Benton.

In the UK, biofuels cost more than petrol, so reducing the proportion of ethanol added to fuel could lower the cost of a litre of petrol by a few pence in addition to lowering food prices. Doing this would allow the UK government to claim it is tackling the cost-of-living crisis affecting its citizens.

Internationally, it would help ease the global food crisis exacerbated by the Ukraine war. The UK alone turns enough food into biofuels each year to feed 3.5 million people, according to a Green Alliance analysis. That compares with 10 million or so people estimated to be at risk of not getting enough food due to the fall in crop exports from Ukraine, the analysis says.



Adding more bioethanol to petrol is no way to go green

Making “greener” fuels by adding bioethanol to petrol will wreck the environment, not save it. We need to focus on making electric cars work, says Michael Le Page

By Michael Le Page

18 July 2019

New Scientist Default Image

Jason Bye / Alamy Stock Photo

The UK should burn more alcohol to go greener, a group of MPs styling themselves the All-Party Parliamentary Group for British Bioethanol said this week. They want the UK government to increase the bioethanol in standard unleaded petrol from 5 to 10 per cent.

Such “E10” fuel is already sold in many countries, including the US, Australia and several European nations. Yet it is a social and environmental disaster.

Biodiversity is under threat, and we need to preserve habitats, not destroy them. But growing crops to make biofuel increases the global demand for farmland and results in the destruction of ever more wilderness. By pushing up food prices and encouraging land grabs, most biofuels also deepen poverty and social division.

They aren’t even that great at limiting climate change. Growing them produces greenhouse gases in all kinds of ways, from carbon dioxide when fertilisers are manufactured to nitrous oxide when they are applied to fields. Add to that people cutting down forests that store lots of carbon to create more farmland.

The official carbon footprint of petrol and diesel in the European Union is 84 grams of carbon dioxide or the equivalent for every megajoule of energy. According to a 2017 study by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, producing bioethanol from wheat – the main crop used for this purpose in the UK – emits around 100g CO2 eq/MJ on average, once land-use change is taken into account.

Sweeter option

Other sources at least emit less than petrol and diesel. Bioethanol made from sugar beet – another crop used in the UK – comes in at around 50g CO2 eq/MJ on average, counting land use.

But the UK’s official aim is to reduce its emissions to net zero by 2050. Even using only sugar-beet bioethanol for blending with petrol wouldn’t get us close to what is needed.

Not all biofuels are bad. Those made from genuine waste really can tick all the boxes, but they are in limited supply. When it comes to petrol there is a far better alternative: electricity. So say the government’s official climate advisers. “We don’t see a long-term role for biofuels in surface transport given other low-carbon options available,” a spokesperson for the Committee on Climate Change tells me. “The shift to electric cars and vans is both low carbon and cost saving.”

A pity, then, that while others such as China and Norway motor ahead, the UK is going backwards. If the UK is to meet its net-zero target, radical change is required, including ending the sale of petrol cars by 2030.

Cutting emissions is admittedly not the main driver behind the MPs advocating for more biofuel. Instead, the key reason they give is to save “the British bioethanol industry” and prevent “the loss of thousands of jobs”.

The saving jobs argument can be used to justify anything, from coal mining to whaling. Suffice to say that the all-out effort needed to get to net zero would generate a huge number of jobs. We need to get on with it instead of wasting time and money on E10 fuel.




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