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Fleet trialling sustainable ethanol fuel

Clariant, in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz and Haltermann Carless, have been trialling the use of sustainable cellulosic ethanol on a number of vehicles over a twelve month period

 

Clariant, a leading global specialty chemicals company, together with Mercedes-Benz and Haltermann Carless, a well-established HCS Group brand, tested the use of sustainable cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues in a fleet test with Mercedes-Benz series vehicles over a period of 12 months for the first time in Germany. sunliquid 20 was used for the test – a fuel produced by Haltermann Carless with a cellulosic ethanol content of 20% by volume (E20) from Clariant's sunliquid plant in Straubing. The cellulosic ethanol allows greenhouse gas emission savings of up to 95% across the entire value chain without competing with food production or tying up agricultural land.

sunliquid® is an innovative biotechnological method for manufacturing cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues such as cereal straw, corn stover or sugarcane bagasse. In the completely integrated process, highly optimized, raw material-specific biocatalysts decompose cellulose and hemicellulose in high yields with stable processing conditions into fermentable sugar.

In the fleet test with Mercedes-Benz vehicles, sunliquid 20 exhibited very good combustion properties with a high degree of efficiency and identical consumption compared to today's standard E10 fuel. Due to the slightly lower energy density of E20 compared to E10, slightly higher fuel consumption was expected under the same operating conditions. The tests performed under laboratory conditions demonstrated variability in the consumption analysis in which additional consumption between 0 and 3% was observed.

“Developing and bringing solutions to the market for more sustainable mobility is one of the most important tasks in the transportation sector today. We are very pleased that sunliquid 20 has proven its high quality in the field test – with the same range and the same driving comfort,” says Dr. Martin Vollmer, Chief Technology Officer, Clariant. “Cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues is a carbon-neutral fuel with great potential, which can be cost-effectively produced and used today. So that energy transition can succeed in the transportation sector, we urgently need stable framework conditions, such as the mandatory blending rate for advanced biofuels within the EU member states.”

“This is yet more evidence that Germany is a technology pioneer in the research and development of sustainable special fuels. As a specialty company and industry research partner, we are delighted to be able to produce a fuel with outstanding specifications and environmental properties that can demonstrate its usefulness in existing engines with existing infrastructure without any issues,” emphasizes Dr. Bruno Philippon, senior vice president Performance Fuels at Haltermann Carless.

In addition to the proven performance, an improvement in particle count emissions by around 50% was measured for sunliquid 20 versus the EU reference fuel Euro 5. The tests have confirmed the positive properties of the sunliquid 20 fuel.

The 20 percent cellulosic ethanol by volume has another decisive advantage. In addition to the higher CO2 savings and reduced emissions, it gives the fuel a significantly higher octane number (RON) of over 100. With a widespread introduction of E20, engines could be adapted in the future so that the quality advantage of the fuel could be used to improve engine efficiency and thus further reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The cellulosic ethanol portion comes from Clariant's sunliquid precommercial plant in Straubing, where approximately 4,500 tons of agricultural residues such as cereal straw or corn stover are converted into cellulosic ethanol each year. At the Haltermann Carless production site in Hamburg, the bioethanol is mixed with selected components to form the innovative fuel whose specifications represent the potential for the quality of E20 fuel in Europe.

 

15 March 2017

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