Fiat Powertrain explores biodiesel from Brazil-native macaúba

By Ron Kotrba | March 05, 2020

Italy-based Fiat Powertrain (FPT) Industrial, a brand of Case New Holland (CNH) Industrial N.V., is investigating production and use of biodiesel made from Acrocomia aculeata, more commonly referred to as macaúba—a native palm tree to Brazil, the Caribbean and South Florida.

Macaúba oil was extracted by Cooper Riachão, a rural producers cooperative in the region of Montes Claros in the state of Minas Gerais, and biodiesel was transesterified in an experimental plant. Research was conducted at the Technical Center in Betim with the main focus on its application as a fuel for agricultural tractors.

The project was carried out in partnership with the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and Bchem Biofuels, using an FPT Industrial N67 Tier 3 engine fitted to Case IH and New Holland Agriculture tractors. 

Mixtures of 10 and 20 percent of macaúba biodiesel were used. Results showed performance and consumption comparable to Brazilian commercial diesel, with reduction of carbon monoxide and particulate matter emissions.

While this project focused on use of macaúba biodiesel blends in agricultural tractors, tests for trucks and buses, as well as power generators, are planned for the future. 

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