Carbon dioxide-neutral transports

Focus on renewable fuels

Carbon dioxide-neutral vehicles are powered by fuel produced from renewable raw materials such as biomass. Vehicles that operate on renewable fuels do not add extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The Volvo Group is actively exploring and developing technologies that operate on renewable or alternative fuels.

Need for reduced dependency on fossil fuel

Burning fossil fuels contributes to raising the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The supply of easily accessible and cheap crude oil is diminishing, which will lead to higher fuel prices. More than 95% of the energy resources used in the transport sector today are oil-based, hence a significant potential for finding commercially viable alternatives.

Reducing dependency on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas by increasing the use of renewable fuels makes business and environmental sense.

More than 95% of the energy resources used in the transport sector today are crude oil-based, hence a significant potential for finding commercially viable alternatives.

Research on renewable fuels

The Volvo Group has conducted research on seven renewable fuels assessed from seven aspects and from a well-to-wheel perspective. All seven renewable fuels have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transports.

It is crucial that these fuels can be produced using sustainable methods, for instance the production of raw material/biomass. The best solution in the short term is to mix renewable fuels that are currently available with today’s fossil fuels. Since we know that biomass will be a limited resource, it is very important to choose the most energy-efficient alternative from a well-to-wheel perspective.

Assessment of sustainability features of fuel categories

The results may vary for a particular fuel depending on the production process used. Read more at www.volvogroup.com

Transit to renewable fuels requires collaboration

The diesel engine is one of the most efficient energy converters around. A major advantage of the diesel engine is that it can be adapted to run on a wide range of renewable fuels.

The transition to a low-carbon society requires collaboration. We have the technology and the know-how to develop carbon dioxide-neutral transports.

Already in 2007, we presented seven trucks, that can be operated on seven different renewable fuels. All of these can be driven without emitting any extra carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.

The purpose of showcasing these vehicles was to create discussions with different actors in society. Cooperation between vehicle manufacturers, politicians, government agencies and fuel producers is necessary. For example, a functioning infrastructure for the production and distribution of new fuels needs to be developed to make this viable.

A major advantage of the diesel engine is that it can be adapted to run on a wide range of renewable fuels.

BioDME – one future alternative

The Volvo Group views DME (dimethylether) as one of the strong future alternatives to fossil fuel; it is energy-efficient and has a lower environmental impact.

DME is a gas that is easy to liquefy and transport. It also has a high cetane number, no sulfur and ultra-clean combustion properties. It has considerable potential for use as an automotive fuel when combined with renewable and low-carbon fuels.

DME can be derived from many sources, including renewable materials (biomass, waste and agricultural products) and fossil fuels (natural gas and coal). DME produced from biomass, known as BioDME, is highly energy-efficient, cost-competitive and emits low greenhouse gas emissions all the way from the source to the wheel.

Proceeding with collaboration on BioDME

The BioDME project is a joint venture to demonstrate the full technology chain involved in the production and distribution of DME from biomass to its use as vehicle fuel.

The project includes building a pilot facility, distribution and filling stations, fuel specification and project evaluation. The Volvo Group is coordinating the project and develops demonstration vehicles for field tests between 2010 and 2012. Two of the vehicles were handed over to customers for field tests in early 2011.

The field tests were made possible through a broad-based joint project involving such players as the EU, the Swedish Energy Agency, fuel companies and the transport industry. To show the potential of DME as an automotive fuel, in September 2011, a Volvo DME truck was displayed at an executive briefing organized by The International DME Association (IDA) in Brussels.

Use of Bio-DME instead of diesel will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 95%.

Continued progress combining methane and diesel

In 2011, Volvo Trucks launched the new Volvo FM Methane Diesel truck. The truck is powered by up to 75% gas and can considerably reduce CO2 emissions from heavy and long-distance transport operations. Volvo Trucks is the first manufacturer in Europe to start selling gas-powered trucks for long-haul operations.

The Volvo FM Methane Diesel will initially be sold in Europe. First up will be the Netherlands, Great Britain and Sweden, where the infrastructure and distribution for gas is established. Sales in other parts of the world will follow, as well as sales on additional European markets.

Volvo Trucks is the first manufacturer to have an efficient diesel engine fuelled by a mixture of methane gas and diesel. A diesel engine is 30–40% more efficient than many gas-operated engines on the market. Up to 75% of the diesel can be substituted by methane and if operated on biogas and biodiesel, CO2 emissions can be cut by up to 70% in the long term compared with traditional diesel operation.

The benefit of methane diesel technology is that methane fuel is already available as a fuel for vehicles.

The benefit of methane diesel technology is that methane fuel is already available as a fuel for vehicles. 

Did you know?

Volvo Trucks is the first manufacturer in Europe to start selling gas-powered trucks for long-haul operations.