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Biodiesel firms spearhead PR offensive against particulate emissions

Biomass-based diesel producers areadvertising their product as a key component in the fight against NOx and particulate air pollution after last month’s blowup of Volkswagen’s US engine testing scandal cast doubt over real world diesel engine emissions.

California-based biodiesel producer Aemetis on Tuesday urged the Indian government to aggressively pursue a 5% biodiesel blend mandate nationwide to tackle the country’s air quality problems, with New Delhi air now rated the world’s most polluted. Aemetis’ Indian-manufactured distilled high cetane biodiesel offers a 9% reduction in NOx levels compared to conventional diesel thanks to improved engine efficiency, as well as an 80% cut in carbon and overall particulate emissions, chairman and chief executive Eric McAfee told PRIMA on Tuesday. Increased uptake of high cetane distilled biodiesel would more than offset any fallout from understated auto manufacture emissions tests, McAfee said.

California renewable fuel distributor Propel last week touted the clean air credentials of its Neste-sourced renewable diesel. The fuel offers a 14% reduction in NOx emissions alongside a 34% cut in particulates and an up to 80% reduction in GHG emissions, the firm said.

European biodiesel producers have been notably less vocal in advertising the clean air credentials of their product than their US-based counterparts. This is in spite of indications that diesel’s once paramount greenhouse gas reduction credentials are starting to take a back seat to concerns over NOx and particulate emissions in the minds of national and municipal European policymakers. French environment minister Segolene Royal last weekend came out in favour of eliminating diesel tax breaks over the next five years, reversing an earlier pro-diesel stance which reflects the dominance of the fuel among French auto manufacturers and France’s vehicle fleet. London meanwhile is among the UK cities planning hefty supplemental daily entry charges for older diesel vehicles as municipalities battle to meet European air quality standards.

Domestic European ethanol lobby group Epure has used EPA’s charges that Volkswagen cheated diesel emissions tests to push for a rebalancing of European biofuels policy away from diesel in favour of gasoline/ethanol blends which it says reduce overall particulate emissions thanks to more complete fuel combustion.

EPA in September charged select Volkswagen models with real world NOx emissions up to 40 times greater than required by clean air standards after the firm allegedly employed defeat devices to beat emissions tests. Volkswagen executives will face their first congressional grilling over the allegations on 8 October.

MS – 06/10/2015

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