Renewable Fuel Source for Volvo Vehicles

by : Glady Reign

Environment consciousness has been growing steadily all over the world and different industries are taking steps to decrease their dependency on the fast-depleting fossil fuel reserves. Steps are also taken to decrease the harmful emissions especially those from cars.

Automotive companies are also developing ways to further clean the emissions produced by their cars and not only to comply with government standards but to also help protect the environment. Different alternative sources of energy or fuel is being studied. Volvo is one of these companies which have taken steps to help in saving the environment from destruction. Their FlexiFuel system that is already used in three of their car models and such a system allows a vehicle to use bio ethanol for fuel. This is indeed showing their dedication not only in producing safe cars but clean cars as well.

Volvo's studies on renewable and cleaner fuels do not start and end with their development and subsequent employment of their FlexiFuel system. The company announced that they are investing in Chemrec AB. This Swedish company has developed a technology in producing synthesis gas which is an important component in the production of various types of alternative fuels. The technology that Chemrec has developed is the first step in extracting alternative fuels from biomass. This renewable source of energy if further developed will help not only the company but the whole industry to lower its dependency on fossil fuels. The study in this field has been underway for more than fifteen years and this breakthrough brings the company closer to producing alternative fuels that will have less damaging effects on the environment compared to currently employed fossil fuel based products.

With the development of the technology to extract synthesis gases from biomass, Chemrec has shown that there is an efficient process in converting biomass into renewable fuels. Their chosen biomass is black liquor which is a residual product from the pulp industry. The common practice to recover the chemicals from this waste is to burn it up on soda furnaces. However, a disadvantage of this is that the recovered chemicals have a low efficiency rating.

But Chemrec has developed a technology that instead gasifies the black liquor from which comes out different by-products including synthesis gas which has a higher efficiency rating. From this, alternative fuels can be extracted with already developed techniques to get vehicle fuels such as bio-diesel, hydrogen gas, synthetic diesel and DME which are all cleaner burning fuels compared to pure gasoline or diesel.

The investment of Volvo on the Swedish company does not mean though that the company has a plan to become a fuel supplier, but they are working on ways to utilize the technology in the development of newer and cleaner engines. This move on the part of the Volvo group shows its dedication to not only protect its consumers via their safe cars but also help to protect the environment through the development of cleaner and renewable vehicle fuels. While this development cannot wipe away the world's dependency on fossil fuels like a can efficiently wipe raindrops from a windshield, but this is certainly a step forward in the right direction.

Whether this technology will be employed in the near future to replace the pure gasoline fuel employed by cars still remains to be seen. But with the dedication of Volvo to help in the development of new processes for the production of alternative fuels and companies such as Chemrec, a cleaner future is quite possible. A future that would see us not totally dependent on fossil fuels for our energy demand, while this may seem far off, the automotive industry is making a good step forward.