Power from Renewable Liquid Fuels

Renewable Liquid Fuels
Renewable Liquid Fuels

Renewable Liquid Fuels For Cat® Generators

Available for over 20 years in some markets, renewable liquid fuels are becoming a more popular choice among customers seeking to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment in the near term. 

What are Renewable Liquid Fuels?

Renewable liquid fuels are produced from renewable resources such as agricultural products – vegetable oils including soybean oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, etc. – used cooking oils, and animal fats. While the resources may vary globally, finished fuel specifications are independent of the feedstock. 

There are two main renewable liquid fuels readily available for end users and acceptable for use in Cat® engines:

two main renewable liquid fuels table
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two main renewable liquid fuels table
  • Note that hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO)/renewable diesel (RD) is per diesel fuel specifications except for density. HVO has lower density than diesel fuels.
  • Biodiesel and HVO are sourced from the same feedstocks but differ in the processing and in the final product chemistry.
  • Both fuels can be used “neat” or blended with conventional diesel to various percentages. 

Benefits

Biodiesel and HVO have rather similar advantages relative to diesel and other fossil fuels, while the magnitude of these advantages may differ:

  • Reduced carbon intensity of engine operation
  • Reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 
  • Reduced emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter (PM), and sulfates, as well as hydrocarbon and air toxics emissions 
  • Both fuels turn free solar energy and atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel that displaces fossil fuels 
  • Water conservation: biodiesel production reduces wastewater relative to the production of petroleum-based fuels
  • Biodiesel is nontoxic and biodegradable 
fuel types
of
fuel types

 

Cat® engines have accommodated the use of
Biodiesel and HVO for over a decade.

Your local Cat Dealer can provide guidance and recommendations for the use of biodiesel.

 

 


In the News

Providing Sustainable Backup Power to Microsoft

Microsoft’s newest data centers in Sweden depend on Cat standby generators that can operate on renewable liquid fuel, supporting their sustainability goals and uptime commitments.

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Microsoft press release
Microsoft press release

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Considerations for Use of Renewable Liquid Fuels

There is a difference in applicability of biodiesel and HVO for prime and standby power:

Power

Biodiesel

HVO

Prime, Continuous

Blend levels per Caterpillar guidance

Any blend level with diesel

Standby

B5 Maximum blend level

Any blend level with diesel

 

The differences in applicability of biodiesel and HVO in standby power applications are due to the nature of the fuels. Biodiesel can age with storage and degrade in quality as it ages. As such, it does not support use in standby power applications and, particulalry emergency generator applications.

Generator engines fueled by renewable liquid fuels have similar performance to those fueled with conventional diesel but experience a small decrease in horsepower output and fuel economy. The cold temperature properties of both HVO and biodiesel need to be appropriate for the ambient environment of the generator. Your local Cat dealer can talk you through any adaptations that may need to be made to your installation.

Performance
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Performance

Some regions or municipalities, particularly where mandates for renewable fuel use exist, may have abundant availability of biodiesel and of HVO. Other areas may not, which can mean fuels need to be transported to the location if needed. Transport over long distances may reduce the positive environmental impact of these fuels. 

Biodiesel fuels are typically more readily available than HVO. This is due to various factors including ease of processing and technology feasibility.

Only purchase biodiesel and HVO fuels from reputable dealers selling commercial grade fuels that meet the relevant specifications. 

Availability
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Availability

The price of biodiesel blends varies depending on geographic area, base material (corn, soybeans, etc.), supplier, and government tax and other incentives. Although renewable liquid fuels can cost more than petroleum diesel, diesel generator set owners can transition to these fuels without purchasing new engines. In the case of fleets, managers can transition to renewable liquid fuels without acquiring new spare parts inventories.

Affordability
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Affordability

Detailed guidance on the use of renewable liquid fuels exists, and users should be aware of the differences in the maintenance requirements associated with them compared to diesel fuels and each other.

When switching from diesel fuel to biodiesel for the first time, shorter maintenance intervals are recommended with focus on fuel filters, hoses, pumps, and seals. Always consult your local Cat dealer for guidance and information relating to new or existing equipment.

HVO fuels have similar aging properties to diesel. Biodiesel, however, has a shorter shelf life due to its composition. Shelf life is based on the blend level.

Contamination control measures are critical for application of any fuel, diesel or renewable. Fuels must be protected from water and dirt.

Maintenance
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Maintenance

Specifications & Standards

Biodiesel is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is legal for use at any blend level in both highway and nonroad diesel engines. In the U.S., the applicable blending spec for B100 is ASTM D6751. B20 blend specs in the US is ASTM D7467.

European fuel standard EN 14214 ensures that biodiesel is suitable for even the most modern engines. EN 16709 describes B20 and B30 biodiesel blends.

HVO fuels must be per EU 15940 spec. HVO fuels also satisfy the diesel fuels specifications ASTM D975 and EN 590, except for density. 

Only purchase biodiesel and HVO fuels from reputable dealers selling commercial grade biodiesel. 

Fuel container in a lab
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Fuel container in a lab

Additional Links and Resources

Fluid Recommendations

Caterpillar engines have accommodated the use of biodiesel and HVO for over a decade across our mobile and stationary product lines. 

View Recommendations
Fluid Recommendations
Fluid Recommendations

National Renewable Energy Lab Guide

View Guide
Lab Guide
Lab Guide

Operation and Maintenance Manual

Cat Commercial Diesel Engine Fluids Recommendations

View Manual
Operation and Maintenance Manual
Operation and Maintenance Manual

Cat Machine Fluids Recommendations

Cat Machine Fluids Recommendations

View Manual
Operation and Maintenance Manual
Operation and Maintenance Manual

Webinar: Alternative Fuels for Electric Power generator sets

The most common fuels used to power generator sets are diesel and natural gas, but did you know there are other options? Engines to power generator sets are available in a wide range of configurations, capable of burning a broad spectrum of fuels. Participants will gain an understanding of what other fuel options exist and what an owner/operator would need to know before using them. 

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Alternative Fuels for Electric Power generator sets
Alternative Fuels for Electric Power generator sets

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For Caterpillar, sustainability is not a new concept. It’s part of who we are and what we do every single day. 

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Sustainability

Your reliable partner

Your local Cat dealer can provide additional guidance and recommendations for all our engine models referencing our fluid specification publications to facilitate the use of biodiesel. 

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