After six years of research and 300 million krona ($47 million CAD), Sweden's largest oil company Preem has announced it's latest alternative fuel will enter the domestic market in April 2011. Preem Evolution Diesel is being touted as the world's first truly green diesel.
While bio-fuel is not a new invention, it has been accompanied with controversy as the biomass is often derived from an agriculture crop or from commodities such as palm oil which have been linked to extensive destruction of rainforests in favour of monoculture plantations.
The groundbreaking development for the Evolution Diesel is from hydrogenating black liquor, a by-product of the pulp & paper industry. This process extracts out pine oil, which is used in the formulation of the fuel. The renewable content is then blended with fossil based diesel to a maximum of 25%.
Through a Well-to-Wheel analysis, essentially a lifecycle analysis from extraction to combustion, it has been shown that Preem has been able to reduce C02 emissions by 16% relative to traditional diesel extracted from crude oil. This reduction in emissions is welcomed not only by conscious individuals, but holds great potential to assist companies and municipalities reach their desired carbon reduction targets.
Those concerned about adverse effects which wood-based fuels may have on their engine need not worry. Preem claims that Evolution Diesel is identical to fossil based fuels on the molecular level and it has been designated as a class one fuel in Europe. This means that it is designed to work in new and old cars alike without any worry about performance loss or compromising a manufacturer's warranty.
In North America, The Forests Products Association of Canada (FPAC)recently acknowledged that there is a great opportunity to join the $200 billion CAD 'bio-economy' which derives fuel, chemicals and materials from trees. Avrim Lazar, president and CEO of FPAC states that becoming more efficient and extracting more value out of each tree harvested '…will have a huge economic, environmental and social impact for Canada.'
A report released by FPAC estimates that the job potential for these integrated operations is five times that of traditional forestry processing.
So how close is Canada to entering this emerging sector of the green economy? Canada has developed the necessary technologies to become a global player in this market and FPAC is now calling on the government and private sector to help build on current momentum.
According to Mr. Lazar 'It's now time to invest and embrace these prospects so that one of Canada's oldest industries can become a vital player in one of the newest sectors, the bio‐economy.'