The Volkswagen brand tested a self-developed biofuel with partners. 1,300 vehicles covered 26 million kilometres without any problems. The project is now going into regular operation.
In a pilot phase, the Volkswagen brand has tested the biofuel it developed with numerous partners: “R33 BlueDiesel.” R33 consists of just 67% fossil-based diesel. The remaining 33% of the premium diesel fuel consists of high-quality renewable components. Specifically, it is comprised of 26% hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) consisting of paraffinic components derived from waste and other residual materials, including used cooking oil. Another seven percent is biodiesel based on used cooking oil. Hence the name of the product: the term BlueDiesel R33 refers to the renewable content of 33%.
Volkswagen has invested several years of research into the fuel in collaboration with Coburg University and 20 other partners. In the development phase, the engineers tested the alternative fuel with diesel engines on the dynamometer. “What was important to us was not to develop a completely new fuel but to comply with the existing specifications,” says Sebastian Willmann, Director of Diesel Engine Development for the Volkswagen brand. And they succeeded. The diesel fuel not only fulfills all prescribed standards; R33 BlueDiesel also typically emits fewer pollutants and is better for the engine. After all, the premium diesel contains more engine-preserving additives. That has a positive effect on its wear and service life.
Pilot testing successful: more than 26 million kilometers driven without a problem
Pilot testing with R33 has recently concluded successfully in Wolfsburg. All company vehicles at Volkswagen headquarters have been fueled with R33 biodiesel at the plant fueling station since January 2018. Altogether more than two million liters of R33 flowed through the station’s hoses into the fuel tanks of perfectly normal diesel passenger vehicles. No modifications whatsoever had to be made to the 1,300 vehicles taking part in the pilot project with R33. Fueled with two million liters of the environmentally friendly premium diesel fuel, the vehicles drove over 26 million kilometers without the slightest problem. The total distance averaged out to 20,000 kilometers per vehicle in the year of 2018.
Other fueling stations now offer R33 biodiesel
R33 is now also available at other filling stations for diesel vehicles. In addition to Wolfsburg, the premium diesel can now be obtained in Salzgitter as well. Further locations will be added in 2019. “We have two business models,” says Thomas Garbe from the Volkswagen brand’s Drive Unit. “First, we will make it available at the filling station. Second, we will take it to potential customers at their locations,” he explains further. That might be taxi companies, haulage companies or simply companies whose vehicle fleets cover many kilometers each year. The advantage: R33 can easily be filled into the same large underground tanks that have been used for conventional diesel up to now.
R33 protects the climate right now
The most important advantage of R33 diesel is its environmental protection potential. It saves 20% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil-based diesel. With its high renewable content and its compliance with standards across Europe, R33 is well in the lead as an alternative fuel. “Electric vehicles are the future. But many companies have a strong interest in lowering the carbon dioxide emissions of their fleets right now. That’s why we at Volkswagen are offering R33,” says Thomas Garbe. He adds: “We are inviting partners and companies with medium to large fleets to join us. Let’s collaborate to protect the environment starting right now!”
What is R33 DieselBlue?
Diesel R33 consists of 33% renewable source materials, of which 26% is hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) and seven percent used cooking oil methyl ester. The remaining 67% is comprised of high-quality diesel fuel. Diesel R33 is fully compliant with diesel fuel standard EN 590. In the future, it is conceivable that completely new components such as algal and yeast oils may also be used in its production.