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HVO Biofuel Explained

HVO stands for Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil. It is a type of renewable diesel fuel made from feedstocks such as vegetable oils, animal fats, or used cooking oils. The production process involves hydrotreating, which is a hydrogenation process that removes impurities and saturates the unsaturated bonds present in the feedstock, resulting in a high-quality diesel fuel. Because it is produced using waste plant-matter and hydrogen, it does not release any additional carbon emissions into the atmosphere and can result in a 90% net reduction in CO2 emissions. 

HVO biofuel is considered a drop-in fuel, meaning it can be used in existing diesel engines without any modifications. It has similar properties to petroleum diesel and can be blended with conventional diesel fuel in various proportions. HVO biofuel is gaining popularity as a sustainable alternative to fossil diesel because it produces lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduces reliance on finite fossil fuel resources. Additionally, it can help in reducing particulate matter and other harmful emissions associated with diesel combustion.

HVO is distinguished at fuel pumps through the use of a pink nozzle at Certa stations, which stands out from the black diesel and green petrol ones. In Ireland, HVO is expected to meet a large proportion of the increase in biofuel supply to decarbonise the transport sector and is considered a vital transition fuel as electric powered vehicles continue to become more mainstream. As mentioned HVO can be used as a direct replacement for diesel in a wide variety of fleet, plant and machinery equipment in addition to passenger cars. It can also be mixed with diesel in any ratio. The performance of diesel engines using HVO is near identical to when they are fuelled with diesel.

As of now, HVO is recognised by the Irish government as a 100% replacement for conventional diesel with greenhouse gas reduction benefits. Diesel-powered cars accounted for 22% of the passenger car market in 2023, just ahead of electric on 19%. While sales of electric cars have increased and the market share of diesel cars has fallen over time, diesel-powered cars are still favoured by many motorists while there is a high number of diesel cars already in the national fleet.

While most modern diesels can operate using HVO without any changes, owners are advised to confirm their cars HVO-readiness by contacting their manufacturer.  


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