MALAYSIA launched its B20 (20 per cent palm methyl ester and 80 per cent petroleum diesel) programme for the transport sector recently.
For someone who has been in the palm oil industry for more than 30 years, I see this as a strategic move that could strengthen the industry. At the same time, it will contribute to the country’s effort to achieve its sustainable development goals, which call for the protection of the planet and people.
This is because scientific studies have proved that the use of biodiesel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For Malaysia, it will bring down the emissions by 3.8 tonnes a year.
Not only that, field tests conducted by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) with local and international parties have shown that palm biodiesel is superior to other types of biodiesel blends.
Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association confirmed that palm biodiesel performs better in terms of maintaining the vehicle’s original injector fuel flow rate compared with other types of biodiesel blends, i.e. rapeseed, soya and coconut, and with much less carbon deposit found at the internal surface of injector tips.
The association, representing 14 Japanese car manufacturers, conducted the verification test using B20 fuel. The test, which was performed by the Japan Automobile Research Institute to verify injector clogging tendency due to biodiesel, also showed that B20 performed better than neat diesel in maintaining a steady fuel flow rate.
Meanwhile, FGV Holdings Bhd’s B20 fleet test suggested no modification on the lorry’s engine was required, and with proper monitoring of fuel quality, there was no need to change service intervals.
Throughout the test period beginning in September last year, FGV Transport Services Sdn Bhd’s two palm oil tankers used B20. The tankers followed strictly the original service interval at every 30,000km and operation procedures as recommended by the manufacturers.
The used lubricant oil was collected at every 5,000km interval until 30,000km and analysed by an external laboratory to examine the degradation due to B20. Results showed that the quality of the used lube oil sample fell within the standard used oil specifications.
This implied that the usage of B20 in FGV Transport’s tankers did not alter or reduce the service interval, contrary to some reports which claimed that the use of B20 would incur higher costs as service intervals would be shortened and vehicles would have to be upgraded.
In another B20 vehicle test, some 35 vehicles of various models from MPOB underwent normal service intervals of 5,000km where 19,161 litres of B20 were used as of Jan 31.
As of today, no technical issues have been reported. In fact, the trial of B100 (100 per cent palm biodiesel) with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall also showed no adverse effects on the engine and vehicle operability, with significant cleaner exhaust compared to diesel.
The Department of Standards Malaysia has developed two Malaysian standards — Euro 2M and Euro 5 fuel — in support of the B20 biodiesel programme.
Basically, the parameters and requirements of the B20 are similar to the B7 and B10 fuel standards.
Palm biodiesel is also more stable compared to biodiesel produced from other vegetable oils such as soyabean and rapeseed.
Note that the oxidation stability requirement for palm biodiesel stipulated in the Malaysian Standard Specification for Palm Biodiesel, MS2008:2014, is more stringent than that of European and American standards due to the inherent properties of palm biodiesel.
The oxidative induction period was set at a minimum of 10 hours in MS2008 for palm biodiesel vis-a-vis the minimum eight hours in the European biodiesel specifications.
Indonesia has implemented B20 for the transport sector since January 2016 and the commercial sector since October last year. Throughout the implementation, the directorate general of New Energy, Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation said no modification to vehicles and industrial engines was required and no technical problems were encountered.
Even original engine manufacturers and haulier companies in Indonesia have claimed that B20 does not pose any problem to the engines.
The writer is director-general of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board