Fuel ethers can play a big role in the future of renewable transport fuels

Posted on 16.02.2011 in News
Fuel ethers can play a big role in the future of renewable transport fuels

According to a report of the stakeholder expert group on future transport fuels, of which Sustainable Fuels is a member, alternative fuels have the potential to gradually replace fossil energy sources,contributing to decarbonising transport.

Because of their many benefits, Sustainable Fuels believes that fuel ethers are part of the solution for the long-term objective of the European Union on CO2 emissions. Indeed, the European Union wants to reduce its overall CO2 emissions by 80-95% by 2050. Fuel ethers have many properties which make them excellent gasoline components for cleaner and sustainable fuels.

  • Fuel ethers enable the use of biofuels by enhancing the properties of bio-ethanol used in their production.
  • Fuel ethers are high octane, oxygen-containing substances. Adding fuel ethers to gasoline allows a more complete combustion of the fuel, leading to a reduction of exhaust emissions of toxic compounds and, critically, a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • By using ethers, refiners use less refinery fuel when producing finished gasoline. This energy efficiency means naturally less CO2 emissions.
  • The major fuel ethers, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) are both manufactured using iso-butylene. Natural gas can be used as the raw material for the production of iso-butylene.  Thus fuel ethers not only have the potential to deliver bio-alcohols into petrol but can also act as a conduit for channeling bio-gas into petrol.
  • Bio-ethers are compatible with the hardware used in the distribution systems of cars.

The expert group on future transport fuels has developed a comprehensive approach covering the whole transport sector and considering a three-way approach: renewable choice, compatibility of alternative fuels with present vehicle technology and energy infrastructure.  According to the report, alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to decarbonise transport, by gradually substituting fossil energy sources.

The Expert Group on Future Transport Fuels was established by the European Commission in March 2010.  Its objective is to provide advice to the Commission aiming at the substitution of fossil oil as transport fuel by 2050 because of the need to reduce its impact on the environment and concerns about the security of energy supply.  The report of the Expert Group, presented to the European Commission on 25 January, will feed into the “initiative on clean transport systems”, to be launched later this year. Decarbonising transport through an 80-95% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 is a core theme of the group and of the common transport policy.