A joint project to commercialise bio-hydrofined diesel (BHD), a second generation biodiesel fuel, has been announced by partners the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Nippon Oil Corporation (ENEOS), Toyota Motor Corporation and Hino Motors, Ltd. The project was developed as part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's 10 Year Project for Carbon Reduction in Tokyo designed to promote carbon reduction by private companies and citizens.

Toyota and ENEOS have been working together since 2005 on BHD technology which will now be field tested in city buses using a 10 percent BHD biodiesel blend as part of the new joint project with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. BHD is produced through a process of hydrogenating vegetable oil and animal fats, resulting in a diesel fuel substitute which is more resistant to oxidation than conventional biodiesel known as fatty acid methyl ester or FAME. The reduction in oxidation allows for BHD to be more readily utilised in higher diesel blend concentrations than FAME biodiesel.

Toyota and ENEOS aim to commercialise the second-generation biodiesel fuel that can be used in blends with diesel fuel above the 5 percent limit set by the Japanese Law on the Quality Control of Gasoline and Other Fuels. In addition to the BHD field testing, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has already committed to introducing a B5 biodiesel blend to its city buses, starting in 2007, to take the initiative in curbing drastically increasing CO2 emissions from the transportation sector.

Analysis: It seems like fuel technology is advancing almost as quickly as engine technology with this announcement of "second generation" biodiesel. It will be interesting to see if ENEOS can get the production costs down to a point where they are cost competitive with diesel and existing biodiesel blends. Great to see the Tokyo Metropolitan Government taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint of its mega-city.

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[Source: Toyota press release]

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