A partnership between Scania, Lucketts Travel and Green Biofuels has conducted what is believed to be the UK's first trial of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) as a sustainable biofuel for scheduled intercity coach operations. The trial, which ran for three months, has provided like-for-like comparison data of seven National Express vehicles using HVO and seven conventionally-fuelled National Express diesel coaches all operated by Lucketts Travel.
The vehicles all operated on the Portsmouth to London National Express service. Over the duration of the trial, each of the 14 coaches was closely monitored with regard to engine performance, fuel consumption and oil quality. In addition, feedback from drivers, passengers and the technicians maintaining the vehicles have been taken into account.
"HVO is an extremely clean biofuel produced from vegetable or animal oils and fats or similar waste material," comments Mark Oliver, UK Bus & Coach Fleet Sales General Manager for Scania (Great Britain) Limited. "HVO not only meets the Euro 6 emissions standard , it also offers a 'well-to-wheel' reduction in carbon dioxide of up to 90 percent . It's properties are extremely similar to those of diesel, except that it's calorific value is slightly higher. As such, it is an extremely attractive option for use as a fuel for road vehicles."
Certified by Scania for 100 percent use in all its Euro 5 and 6 vehicles, plus the majority of its Euro 4 models, HVO provides a viable 'here and now' solution to operators looking to improve the environmental performance of their existing fleets. Furthermore, HVO can be blended with, or replaced by, diesel at any time, making it an extremely flexible solution.
"With the forthcoming introduction of Ultra Low Emissions Zones and Clean Air Zones around the country, decarbonising long haul coaches is a key challenge for operators today," comments Ian Luckett, Director of Lucketts Travel. "We are delighted to be involved in this trial and hope it will stimulate interest and debate within the industry and among the legislators and other stakeholders. For our part we find HVO an extremely attractive possibility as introducing it to the fleet would be relatively straightforward with no modifications or retrofitting required, and are very much looking forward to the outcomes of the trial."
Chris Hardy, Managing Director of National Express Coach, adds: "This partnership between Scania and Lucketts to explore new fuel technology is industry leading and great news for the coach sector. We're excited to be associated with the trial and look forward to seeing the results and the opportunities they may open up."
HVO is widely available today throughout Europe, but has not so far been adopted to the same degree within the UK. The HVO used in the Lucketts National Express trial is produced from used cooking oil and is certified palm oil-free. The fuel is being supplied by Green Biofuels, the UK's sole importer of HVO produced by Finland-based Neste.