Volkswagen renewable diesel evaluation program completed

By Volkswagen of America Inc. | July 01, 2015

Volkswagen of America Inc. announced the successful completion of its Renewable Diesel Evaluation Program in collaboration with Solazyme Inc. and Amyris Inc., two of the world’s leaders in renewable fuels and products. Beginning in 2012, Volkswagen measured the environmental impacts from the use of pre-commercial renewable diesel formulas with TDI Clean Diesel technology found in the 2012 Passat TDI (which uses a NOx storage system) and 2012 Jetta TDI (SCR system). Initial analysis found that advanced renewable fuels in the test offered comparable performance to standard crude-based diesel fuel blends while producing less CO2 emissions on average.

During the two-year evaluation, Solazyme’s now commercial Soladiesel RD (100-percent algae-derived renewable diesel fuel) and the Amyris plant-sugar derived renewable diesel formula was used for the program with each company testing a 2012 Passat TDI and Jetta TDI models. Both fuel producers added additives, which are commonly used today, to meet ASTM D975 specifications.  With more than 134,000 miles logged collectively in real-world, on-road and on-highway conditions, Volkswagen engineers found that every vehicle in the evaluation offered similar performance to existing TDI powertrains operating on today’s crude-based clean diesel fuels. While powered by the two fuel formulas, results from the evaluation found that driving dynamics were not negatively impacted while fuel economy was similar or improved. In addition to comparable performance, both producers claim that greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by more than 50 percent on a well-to-wheel basis when using renewable fuels as compared to today’s commercially available crude-based fuels.

“The successful completion of this collaboration with two leaders in renewable fuels and products highlights how far advanced fuel technology has come in recent years, proving that sustainable fuels are not only produced in more environmentally friendly ways, but can offer similar performance and lower emissions from a well-to-wheel perspective when compared with commercially available crude-based fuels,” said Ewald Goessmann, executive director, Volkswagen Group of America, Electronics Research Laboratory. “Evaluations like this are part of Volkswagen’s broader holistic environmental strategy which underscores the company’s commitment to the environment by deploying a comprehensive approach which addresses carbon reduction and sustainability at each part of the vehicle lifecycle.”

These key indicators highlight the tremendous market potential that renewable fuel solutions offer, combining comparable performance and fuel economy, helping reduce emissions, while utilizing more sustainable methods to produce the products.

During the evaluation period, no engine errors were triggered as a result of the fuel and no extreme wear or failures were reported that would prevent any of the vehicles tested from being operated normally while powered with the respective renewable formulas. Additionally, engineers found that during the evaluation period there were no negative effects in the burning of the renewable fuels, while the production of soot was lower than when using conventional diesel.

“We thank Volkswagen for its support in collaborating with Amyris to showcase the benefits of using our No Compromise renewable diesel,” said John Melo, president and CEO of Amyris. “These results demonstrate the benefits of using Amyris diesel, and contribute to increased consumer awareness and adoption of renewable fuels.”

“We commend Volkswagen for their vision in setting up this program and their broad efforts to deliver more sustainable vehicles to consumers,” said Graham Ellis, senior vice president of business development and fuels for Solazyme. “Volkswagen’s demonstration in the real world that Solazyme’s 100 percent drop-in renewable diesel is compatible with existing infrastructure and vehicles is an important step, and has been instrumental in the commercial launch of our fuels.”

As the evaluation comes to a close, the results and data collected make for a promising case for the use of renewable fuels in the years to come. The positive results highlight the possibility for new sustainable production pathways and open the door to more advanced innovation in the renewable fuel space. Volkswagen engineers will continue to analyze engine components and other data accumulated during the evaluation, which could help in the enhancement of future vehicle components and refinement of renewable fuels.

The renewable diesel evaluation program is part of Volkswagen’s global strategy to become one of the world’s most environmentally friendly automakers by 2018. From a product perspective, the company seeks to reduce passenger fleet CO2 with a goal of cutting emissions by 90 percent by 2050, improving fuel efficiency by 10-15 percent for every new model as compared to its predecessor, and by making other significant environmental improvements for each new model that’s introduced. In production, the brand is working to continue current efforts to help reduce GHG emissions at each production facility globally while increasing the use of renewable forms of energy to power production. For more information about Volkswagen Group’s global sustainability efforts, click here.  


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