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Fleet test with Mercedes-Benz proves cellulosic E20 fuel quality

A recently concluded fleet test with Mercedes-Benz vehicles has proved Clariant's cellulosic ethanol E20 fuel quality. Environmental benefits include excellent combustion characteristics without increased consumption, improved particle count and significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction.

Cars in the Mercedes-Benz fleet in front of Clariant's sunliquid pre-commercial cellulosic ethanol plant (photo courtesy Clariant/Rötzer).
Cars in the Mercedes-Benz fleet in front of Clariant’s sunliquid pre-commercial cellulosic ethanol plant (photo courtesy Clariant/Rötzer). Cars in the Mercedes-Benz fleet in front of Clariant's sunliquid pre-commercial cellulosic ethanol plant (photo courtesy Clariant/Rötzer).

Clariant, a leading global specialty chemicals company, together with Mercedes-Benz and fuel producer Haltermann Carless, have concluded a 12-month fleet test of an E20 fuel using a cellulosic ethanol content of 20 percent by volume. The E20 fuel was produced by Haltermann Carless at its facility in Hamburg and is based on Clariant’s “sunliquid” cellulosic ethanol along with selected components.

According to Clariant, the E20 fuel exhibited very good combustion properties in the fleet test with Mercedes-Benz vehicles, displaying a high degree of efficiency and identical consumption compared to today’s standard E10 fuel. Due to the slightly lower energy density of E20 compared to E10, slightly higher fuel consumption was expected under the same operating conditions. The tests performed under laboratory conditions demonstrated variability in the consumption analysis in which additional consumption between 0 and 3 percent was observed.

– Developing and bringing solutions to the market for more sustainable mobility is one of the most important tasks in the transportation sector today. We are very pleased that sunliquid 20 has proven its high quality in the field test – with the same range and the same driving comfort, said Dr Martin Vollmer, Chief Technology Officer, Clariant.

The ethanol is produced at Clariant’s sunliquid pre-commercial plant in Straubing, Germany where around 4 500 tonnes of agricultural residues such as cereal straw or corn stover are converted into cellulosic ethanol annually. This ethanol enables greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings of up to 95 percent across the entire value chain without competing with food production or tying up agricultural land.

– Cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues is a carbon-neutral fuel with great potential, which can be cost-effectively produced and used today. So that energy transition can succeed in the transportation sector, we urgently need stable framework conditions, such as the mandatory blending rate for advanced biofuels within the EU member states, said Vollmer.

In addition to the proven performance, an improvement in particle count emissions by around 50 percent was measured for sunliquid 20 versus the EU reference fuel Euro 5. The tests have confirmed the positive properties of the sunliquid 20 fuel.

– This is yet more evidence that Germany is a technology pioneer in the research and development of sustainable special fuels. As a specialty company and industry research partner, we are delighted to be able to produce a fuel with outstanding specifications and environmental properties that can demonstrate its usefulness in existing engines with existing infrastructure without any issues, emphasised Dr Bruno Philippon, Senior Vice-President Performance Fuels at Haltermann Carless.

The 20 percent cellulosic ethanol by volume has another decisive advantage. In addition to the higher carbon dioxide (CO2) savings and reduced emissions, it gives the fuel a significantly higher octane number (RON) of over 100. With a widespread introduction of E20, engines could be adapted in the future so that the quality advantage of the fuel could be used to improve engine efficiency and thus further reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.


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