The benefits of biodieselPOSTED BY Motorme Admin ON 06 July 2017
In a combustion engine, be it petrol or diesel, engine sludge is what can ultimately contribute to significant performance reduction and damage.
As your vehicle’s mileage increase, accumulated sludge buildup in the engine can cause a significant loss in power, poor oil pressure, an increase in lubricant usage, overheating under load, blow-by and dirty exhaust smoke.
Oil sludge is usually black and appears as either solid gunk or gel in the engine oil. The gelling, or solidifying is normally caused by low running temperatures that are typically less than 100°C.
As this black and tar-like slimy deposit accumulates, it is known to block the normal passage of lubricants to the engine’s key components. This results to excessive wear and other damaging problems that threaten the general lifespan of your vehicle’s engine. The main outcome over years of usage will equate to a costly repair or having to replace the entire engine and other corresponding components.
What is known about the properties of biodiesel is that it is an effective cleaning agent in the engine, increasing the engine’s longevity while also being a more environmentally-friendly fuel.
Biodiesel is a cleaner burning fuel, less toxic, produces lower green gas emissions such as carbon monoxide that will in turn reduce the impact of global warming, and has a minimal to almost zero sulfur content. It is also regarded as a petroleum diesel substitute.
The use of biodiesel also does not require any vehicle modification or special fuelling equipment and the greater use of palm oil also contributes back to the national economy.
As countries around the world step up efforts to promote the greater use of biodiesel, Malaysia is taking similar steps towards reducing its dependency on fossil fuels. To date, Indonesia is regarded as the leader in biodiesel, enforcing the use of B20 biodiesel, a blend of 20% palm methyl ester and 80% fossil fuel diesel. Countries such as Colombia and Argentina, for instance, have advanced their biodiesel agenda by using B10 biodiesel while France and Brazil are currently mandating the use of B8 biodiesel.
Recognising the superlative benefits of biodiesel, Malaysia is now gearing up towards introducing a three per cent increment in the use of palm methyl ester to B10 biodiesel.
The use of B10 biodiesel will also not require any special modifications to existing vehicles as it only constitutes a small increment of palm methyl ester. The properties of B10 biodiesel help provide a higher cetane number, meaning fuel combusts more easily and improves the lubricity to reduce wear and tear in the engine (low lubricity fuel is known to cause high wear on and scarring of engine components).
In older diesel-powered vehicles, the use of regular diesel can cause significant sulfuric acid buildup which quickly corrodes, thus requiring these vehicles to undergo more frequent oil changes.
In newer vehicles, high-pressure diesel direct injection systems such as common rail diesel engines are highly sensitive to high sulfuric levels. Higher sulfur levels increase the frequency of vehicle repair and maintenance. In the case of B10 biodiesel, its reduced sulfur content reduces the risk of corrosive wear in the engine without inhibiting engine performance.
While there have been pockets of resistance against the introduction of B10 biodiesel, most of the issues revolve around whether the fuel is compatible with both new and older generation diesel-powered vehicles in Malaysia. Several vehicle manufacturers have also threatened to void their warranty should B10 biodiesel be introduced, citing concerns relating to the flow efficiency of components such as the fuel injectors and fuel filter.
While some Malaysian car manufacturers and distributors are opposed to B10, it is noteworthy that in Indonesia, it is the country’s association of car manufacturers and distributors (known by the acronym GAIKINDO) that has been the leading advocate of B20 consumption, even taking the initiative to conduct field testing of the fuel prior to its launch.
In Malaysia however, this initiative is led by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) that is in consultation with other bodies such as the Japan Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (JAMA) and several OEM companies.
Testing of B10 and B20 biodiesel in Malaysia commenced as early as 2013 and a series of tests includes a vehicle that was driven at least 800km on a daily basis. A total of 76 vehicles of various make, mileage and age were used by the MPOB in the course of its testing and the results have been consistent – B10 biodiesel is not only safe for use, but more importantly, helps to clean up deposits (sludge) from the engine, a process which does not happen with the use of base diesel. In addition, the vehicles were found to have no decrease in fuel flow in the fuel injectors and no deposits or plugging were detected in the fuel filter.
Contrary to the myth that the use of B10 biodiesel would cause difficulty in starting the vehicle in cold temperatures, tests showed no solidifying of fuel in temperatures as low as 11°C. Solidifying should hardly be a problem in Malaysia where the minimum annual temperature of places such as Cameron Highlands is only around 18°C and 11°C at night. For the record, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Cameron Highlands was 7.8°C in 1978.
Since 2014, a total of 50 vehicles belonging to the Kuala Lumpur city hall ranging from tractors, excavators and backhoes to pick-ups, tipper trucks, vans, tow trucks and water tankers have been exclusively powered by B10 biodiesel in daily operations, accumulating more than three million kilometers without a single engine failure or breakdown.
This is without taking into account the fact that B10 biodiesel has already been validated by experiences, evaluations and more than 45 million problem-free on-the-road kilometres that were recorded by car manufacturers, car owners and transport operators that are currently using B10 or higher biodiesel in other countries.