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Dubai Municipality vehicles to run on biodiesel

The emirate continues its mission to reduce its carbon footprint as the city’s authority vehicles switch to locally produced biodiesel.

 

Dubai has become the first city in the world to adopt locally produced biodiesel for its fleet of municipality vehicles. The emirate has signed an agreement with Neutral Fuels to replace the diesel used in its 2,000 vehicles with locally produced, sustainable biodiesel, made from the locally collected waste oil.

 

For Neutral Fuels CEO and chairman Karl Feilder, the news is the latest milestone for a company that has had a presence in the United Arab Emirates since 2009. “Our parent company, The Neutral Group, was founded at the end of 2006 in the UK and moved its global HQ to Dubai in 2009, following the acquisition of one of its subsidiaries (Neutral Services) by Deutsche Post DHL. During 2008 and 2009, Neutral Services, DHL and the Dubai Economic Department (DED) worked together on a project to assess remediation strategies for the carbon footprint of the logistics sector of Dubai. One of the main findings of this study was that there was a real need and enthusiastic support for a biofuels sector in Dubai.”

 

And interest in those strategies didn’t end with the conclusion of the research project, as Feilder continues: “The DED, through its Foreign Direct Investment division, continued to work closely with The Neutral Group to assist in getting all the correct permissions and papers to set up the first commercial biofuels facility in the Middle East. Permission was granted by the Department of Petroleum Affairs in 2010, and Neutral Fuels was immediately established, commencing production later that year.”

The emirate has been quick to embrace the burgeoning biodiesel sector. In 2011, Neutral Fuels began a commercial agreement with McDonald’s to recycle the chain’s waste cooking oil for use in its local delivery trucks. The same year, Dubai’s Roads and Transit Authority awarded Neutral Fuels its Sustainable Transport Award. In 2013, the company estimates, 5 million kilometers were driven by customers running their vehicles on 100% biodiesel. In 2014, the company produced 2 million liters of fuel – although just this month Neutral Fuels announced that it would double its production capacity.

 

The process begins with waste oil collected from Dubai’s hotels and restaurants. “This is currently performed in two ways – using our specially designed Recycled Oil Container from McDonald’s restaurants, and [picked up] from the other restaurants and hotels by one of Dubai’s licensed oil collectors,” Feilder explains. “The McDonald’s trucks bring it directly to our bio-refinery where we unload it, and refuel their trucks with 100% biodiesel simultaneously. In general, it takes two days from the oil arriving for it to be processed into European standards-compliant biodiesel – and thereafter, every drop is used by our customers within seven days.”

Municipality vehicles will refuel at depots, while farming equipment will have biofuel delivered. The Dubai government’s cooperation represents a significant vote of confidence in the fuel type and, Feilder hopes, could lead to further implementation. “We would love to see a 5% blend, just like in Europe, adopted across the whole of Dubai, so that our clean, green fuel will benefit all diesel users and Dubai residents.” The increased use of such fuel is also undoubtedly important to Dubai’s drive to modernize its transport infrastructure ahead of Expo 2020, which will be hosted by the emirate. “In less than five years,” Feilder adds, “I’m sure that a blend of biodiesel and diesel will be the norm in Dubai, with truly sustainable organizations running on 100% biodiesel.”

 

23 February 2015

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