What makes an alternative fuel?

International Fuel Technology intends to petition the US Department of Energy for its proprietary Premium Diesel fuel blend to be designated as an ‘alternative fuel’ under the definition of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct).

International Fuel Technology intends to petition the US Department of Energy (DOE) for its proprietary Premium Diesel fuel blend to be designated as an ‘alternative fuel’ under the definition of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct).

The EPAct was created to promote a reduction in the use of vehicles that operate solely on petroleum-based fuels, with the objective of replacing 30% of the motor fuels used in the United States with alternative fuels on an energy equivalent basis.

The Company’s Premium Diesel blend is substantially “non-barrel” with the majority of the finished fuel blend coming from synthetic diesel derived from natural gas condensate, which is then blended with EPA No. 2 diesel and IFT’s patented fuel additive. The inclusion of a fuel that is substantially non-petroleum represents a key characteristic in the consideration of an alternative fuel under EPAct.

Specifically, the standard for gaining alternative fuel status is stated as ‘… any other fuel the Secretary determines is substantially non-petroleum, and would yield substantial energy security benefits and substantial environmental benefits.’

In testing completed at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) on a heavy-duty diesel engine, Premium Diesel, when compared to EPA No. 2 diesel fuel, was shown to reduce Carbon Monoxide (CO) by 20%, Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) by 10%, Particulate Matter (PM) by 10% and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) by 7%, while achieving a fuel economy increase of 6%. Emissions and fuel economy comparisons were also made between Premium Diesel and CARB-certified diesel fuel and yielded similar results.

The majority of vehicles covered under EPAct are federal and state fleets that operate in one of the 25 designated metropolitan areas in the US (cities with over 250,000 people as of the 1980 census). These fleets currently meet EPAct requirements through a variety of measures such as the purchase of AFV’s (Alternative Fueled Vehicles) which run on different fuels including compressed natural gas (CNG). Fleets covered under EPAct are also using alternative fuels such as E85 (fuel with 85% ethanol), and specially designated fuels such as B20 (fuel with 20% biodiesel).

The technologies now being used to meet EPAct requirements have significant limitations including the high cost of AFV’s relative to conventional vehicles, and the added cost of refining or blending, and in some cases storing, of alternative fuels. Additionally, there is the need to create substantial infrastructure changes for fueling stations (in the case of CNG and similar fuels) and other requirements for distribution that are capital intensive.

The design of IFT’s Premium Diesel has taken into account these limitations through the use of synthetic diesel from gas condensate, which is a straight distilled product and does not require any special refining processes. With Premium Diesel no extra energy is used to refine the gas condensate into fuel, meaning the net environmental benefit is greater for Premium Diesel versus fuels currently derived from gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology. Equally important, there are no changes that need to be made to the engine or fuel delivery system for Premium Diesel, nor are there any special distribution requirements such as special storage tanks or other infrastructure changes.

In designing Premium Diesel, IFT not only intended it to be an alternative fuel under EPAct, but also sought to have it meet the requirements for inclusion under the California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards for CARB-diesel. CARB requires that all diesel fuel sold in California meet specific standards for aromatic and sulphur content. The Premium Diesel blend meets the low sulphur and lower aromatic content set by CARB under small refiner standards, which accounts for 20% of the diesel fuel sold annually in California.

IFT has earlier stated that it is seeking distribution partners for its Premium Diesel blend, which is now commercially available across the US. Through the use of the Company’s proprietary additive, IFT can also blend kerosene refined from oil stocks into a finished fuel blend. Due to the generally higher content of aromatics in the kerosene derived from oil, the emissions profile will not be as beneficial, although the fuel economy benefits will be similar. The use of kerosene from oil in fuel blends is significant in certain geographic segments of the US where winter fuel blends are required due to sustained, colder temperatures.