Alcohol fuels can enable a green technology shift in work vehicles
If diesel fuel in work vehicles such as tractors and wheel loaders was replaced or complemented with renewable alcohols, CO2 emissions could at least be reduced by 50 percent. The fuel alternatives and the technology is already in place, but business conditions need to improve.
Alcohol fuels such as ethanol and methanol have low CO2 emissions and they can be used with a high degree of efficiency. They are already produced in large quantities in Sweden and engine researchers consider alcohols of future interest for work vehicles in used in agriculture, forestry, and construction.
This study has investigated the conditions for using alcohols to replace fossil fuels with respect to practical handling, business conditions, environmental benefits and future technology solutions. The results have been compared to those of fossil diesel and biodiesel (HVO).
Climate impact from alcohol fuels depends to a large extent on the production of the fuel and the use of it in a vehicle. Compared to HVO, CO2 emissions from production of alcohol fuels are roughly the same or lower. In user phase, the reduction could be up to 60 percent. Compared to diesel, the CO2 emissions could be reduced by 60 to 85 percent using alcohol fuels, depending on technology. The highest efficiency and thus the greatest environmental benefit can be reached with partially premixed combustion and solid oxide fuel cells, motor concepts that are not yet commercialized.
Shifting to HVO doubles todays fuel costs, and the costs of shifting to alcohol fuels are approximately 2,5 times higher. This is a large expense for the individual user in the short term, which is why economic policy measures on a societal level are needed.
Alcohol fuels display different properties than those of diesel meaning that the handling of the fuel demands knowledge and certain investments in materials and technology.
Gunnar Larsson, SLU
Per-Ove Persson, Per-Ove Persson F.N.B.
January - December 2019
Total project cost
973 135 SEK
Swedish Energy Agency, the f3 partners, SLU and Per-Ove Persson F.N.B.
Swedish Energy Agency's project number within the collaborative research program