STORY Industrial

Sustainable fuels: E-Diesel and HVO make mtu engines (almost) climate-neutral

Posted on November 21, 2022 by Lucie Maluck

Up to 100 percent lower CO2 emissions, yet the same amount of power: synthetic diesel fuels make a major contribution to climate protection. Which mtu engines can already run on these fuels today?
Friedrichshafen, Germany
Rolls-Royce is taking a significant step towards even more climate-friendly mobility and power generation with the release of many mtu engines for use with sustainable fuels. With synthetic diesel fuels of the EN15940 standard, CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 100 percent compared to fossil diesel. Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO or renewable diesel), which is already commercially available today, reduces CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent. If the fuels are produced with the help of renewable energy and green hydrogen – through what is termed a Power-to-X process – existing rail vehicles can be operated in a completely CO2-neutral manner.

Rail engines: Many are already allowed to run with HVO

mtu Series 1800 engines which are used in mtu PowerPacks, as well as Series 1300 and 1500 for locomotives and multi-purpose vehicles, are already approved for use with synthetic fuels such as HVO. Series 1600 and versions of Series 4000 engines will follow in the near future. This was preceded by a series of tests and trials with strong partners: DB Cargo and RDC Autozug Sylt have already tested or are currently testing mtu Series 4000 engines with HVO in their locomotives. (more on this)

Rolls-Royce is taking a significant step towards even more climate-friendly rail transport with the release of mtu engines that can use sustainable fuels, for rail applications. The release required thorough field testing for which Rolls-Royce partnered with DB Cargo (pictured) and RDC Deutschland Group. (Source: DB Cargo ) JPG, 1 MBSince mid-August 2021, DB Cargo, in coordination with Rolls-Royce, first conducted engine bench tests and then operational trials, for example with DB Series 294 locomotives with an 8V 4000 R41 mtu engine running on HVO. (Source: DB Cargo)

Construction, industry, agriculture and mining: More sustainable with HVO


The release of the mtu Series 1000, 1100, 1300 and 1500 engines for the use of paraffinic diesel fuels of the EN15940 standard already enables almost CO2-neutral mobility on fields and roads. This year, many mtu engines for mining applications of the Series 4000 will also be released for the sustainable fuels. Engines for emissions regulations EU Stage V will follow. (read more)

Youtube Video

From 2023: HVO release for mtu marine engines


mtu Series 2000 and 4000 marine engines will gradually be approved for EN15940 synthetic diesel fuels from the beginning of 2023. (read more) The Golden Gate Ferry shipping company in San Francisco has been successfully testing HVO in six ferries since 2019. The result: After more than 41,000 operating hours, the engines continue to run excellently. Jim Swindler, Managing Director of Golden Gate Ferry, is particularly pleased: " The visible smoke that was seen at the dock with conventional diesel has been reduced with the switch to HVO.” (read more)

Since 2019, California ferry operator Golden Gate Ferry has been successfully testing the use of sustainable HVO with mtu engines in six ferries in its fleet. Testing over 41,000 hours of operation confirmed that mtu engines perform equally outstandingly when using HVO compared to diesel - in terms of maximum power, load response and fuel consumption. The picture shows ferry Mendocino of GGF in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Power Generation: Release for Series 1600 and 4000 engines

For power generation, the Series 1600 and Series 4000 engines are already approved for EN15940 fuels. "There is already a lot of interest in HVO in particular from many customers in the power industry and data centers who want to improve their carbon footprint," explains Tobias Ostermaier, president of the Stationary Power Solutions business unit at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. "The results from pilot customers show that our engines emit significantly less greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions when fueled with HVO. Performance, on the other hand, does not suffer significantly," Ostermaier said. (read more)

The advantages of HVO are clean combustion with a reduction in particulate emissions of up to 80 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by an average of eight percent and CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent compared to fossil diesel. Because HVO is produced from renewable raw materials, its production, transport, and combustion generate only about as many greenhouse gases as were absorbed by the plants during the growth of the biomass.

What are synthetic fuels?

Sustainable synthetic fuels include BtL (Biomass to Liquid), HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) and PtL (Power to Liquid) such as e-diesel. Engines do not need to be converted to use these fuels.  

Already available today: HVO

For HVO, waste vegetable and animal fats and used vegetable oils can be used as base materials, which are converted into hydrocarbons by means of a catalytic reaction with the addition of hydrogen. In this way, the fats and vegetable oils are adapted in their properties to diesel fuel and can either supplement it or replace it completely.  

The advantages of HVO:  

  • Significantly lower CO2 emissions: Up to 90 percent (depending on the manufacturing process and feedstock) less than fossil diesel. The reason: Because HVO fuel is produced from renewable raw materials, its combustion produces only about as many greenhouse gases as were absorbed by the plants during the growth of the biomass.
  • The fuel burns cleaner
  • Diesel particulate emissions are reduced by up to 80 percent, and nitrogen oxide emissions by an average of eight percent.  
  • Thanks to production from residual and waste materials, there is no competition with food production.    
HVO burns much cleaner than fossil diesel.
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