The Canal & River Trust has begun a trial of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel in its workboats

Photo courtesy Canal & River Trust
Photo courtesy Canal & River Trust

The fuel is being seen as a greener alternative for boats and boating businesses with the Trust pointing out the adoption of fuels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) will reduce carbon emissions from the boat engines while not requiring changes in either engines or supply infrastructure.

“On the waterways, we hope that hydrotreated vegetable oil will provide a ‘quick win,’ a more sustainable, cost-friendly swap that will enable boaters and boating businesses to easily reduce their emissions,” said Matthew Symonds, Trust national boating manager. “The trial of the fuel in our workboat fleet will provide valuable information on practicalities and performance.”

If the trial is successful, there will be a gradual rollout across the whole Trust fleet from April 2022, to coincide with the withdrawal of commercial red diesel. HVO is made from waste oils from animal fats and vegetable oil. It has lower nitrogen oxide outputs than fossil fuel diesel and can reduce particulate emissions by nearly 90%. The fuel is stable when stored for up to ten years, is free-flowing down to at least -25°C and does not attract water. It also mixes with other diesel fuels.

The trial is being supported by funding raised by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery through its Postcode Climate Challenge Initiative, which is supporting 12 charities with an additional £24 million for projects tackling climate change.

It follows on from a trial instigated by the Inland Waterway Association’s Sustainable Boating Group using HVO and involving a cross-section of the existing inland waterways fleet using the fuel for propulsion, domestic use and heating.

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