HVO Fuel

Comprehensive Guide to HVO Fuel: Compatibility, Benefits, and Drawbacks

Comprehensive Guide to HVO Fuel: Compatibility, Benefits, and Drawbacks

Key Takeaways

Aspect Details
HVO Fuel Renewable, paraffinic diesel alternative from vegetable oils, animal fats, and waste oils.
Compatibility Compatible with many diesel engines from manufacturers like JCB, Liebherr, Cat, Hitachi, Volvo, Takeuchi, Komatsu and Kalmar.
Environmental Impact Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%, lowers pollutants, and supports waste management.
Performance & Maintenance High cetane number, excellent cold weather performance, reduced engine wear, and longer shelf life.
Drawbacks Higher cost, limited availability, potential material incompatibility, and water contamination risks.
Comparison with Diesel Renewable feedstock, cleaner combustion, better storage stability, and superior cold weather performance.

HVO Fuel Overview

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel is a renewable diesel alternative produced from sustainable feedstocks like vegetable oils, animal fats, and waste oils through a hydrotreatment process. This process involves treating the oils with hydrogen at high temperatures and pressure, removing impurities and oxygen. HVO fuel closely matches the chemical composition of conventional diesel, allowing users to directly replace it in existing diesel engines without requiring any modifications.

Compatibility with Diesel Engines

Many major manufacturers have approved using HVO fuel in their diesel engines and equipment. These approvals often apply without engine modifications, making the transition to HVO fuel straightforward for many users. Specific examples of compatible engines and equipment include:

  • JCB Construction Equipment: Compatible with JCB 430, 444, 448, Cummins, Kohler, Perkins, Volvo, John Deere, and Agco/Sisu engines from Stage IIIA to Stage V emission standards.
  • Rolls-Royce mtu Diesel Engines: Used in generators, trucks, trains, and ships, these engines can run on HVO fuel that meets EN15940 standards.
  • Kalmar Terminal Tractors and Lift Trucks: Engines with EU3/EPA Tier 3 emission levels, such as Cummins QSM-11 and Volvo TAD115X-VE, are compatible with HVO fuel.

It's always advisable to check with the specific manufacturer for approved HVO fuel specifications and compatibility with your engine or equipment model.

Environmental Benefits

Significant Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

HVO fuel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared to conventional diesel. This substantial reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions helps mitigate the impact of fuel combustion on climate change.

Lower Emissions of Air Pollutants

HVO fuel produces:

  • Up to 27% lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
  • Up to 30% lower particulate matter emissions.
  • Up to 24% lower carbon monoxide (CO) emissions.

The reduced emissions of these pollutants contribute to improved air quality and a lower environmental impact on human health and ecosystems.

Renewable and Sustainable Feedstock

Producers create HVO from renewable and sustainable feedstocks like vegetable oils, animal fats, and waste cooking oils. This process promotes a circular economy by utilizing waste materials that would otherwise be discarded.

Biodegradable and Non-Toxic

HVO fuel is biodegradable and non-toxic, making it a more environmentally friendly choice than conventional diesel, which can harm ecosystems in case of spills or leaks.

Supports Waste Management Goals

Using waste cooking oils and other residues as feedstock for HVO production aligns with government strategies to eliminate food waste to landfills by 2030 and promotes sustainable resource management.

Performance and Maintenance Benefits

High Performance and Compatibility

HVO has a high cetane number, leading to better combustion efficiency and smoother engine operation. This alternative fuel source can be used as a direct replacement for diesel in most modern construction machinery without modifying the engines. HVO also has excellent cold weather performance, with a low freezing point of around -30°C, ensuring reliable operation in cold climates.

Reduced Maintenance Needs

HVO fuel's cleaner combustion can reduce engine wear and tear, potentially lowering maintenance costs. HVO is free from impurities like sulfur, metals, and ash-forming elements, which can cause issues in diesel engines.

Longer Shelf Life

HVO fuel has a significantly longer shelf life of up to 10 years than conventional diesel, which typically lasts only one year. This longer shelf life reduces the need for frequent testing and disposal of expired fuel.

Improved Corporate Social Responsibility

Using a renewable and environmentally friendly fuel like HVO can enhance a company's corporate social responsibility profile and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices.

Potential Drawbacks

Higher Cost

One of the main drawbacks of HVO fuel is its currently higher cost than conventional diesel fuel. As a premium renewable fuel, HVO is more expensive to produce, leading to higher end-user prices.

Limited Availability

HVO fuel is not as widely available as standard diesel, as not all fuel suppliers offer it yet. This could pose challenges in sourcing and obtaining a consistent supply of HVO, especially in certain regions.

Compatibility Concerns

While most major equipment manufacturers approve HVO for use in their diesel engines without modifications, certain sectors still have concerns and skepticism about its long-term compatibility with different engine types, particularly older models. Thorough compatibility checks are recommended.

Potential Material Incompatibility

The chemical properties of HVO differ from traditional diesel, which could lead to compatibility issues with certain materials like rubber seals and gaskets, potentially causing swelling and leaks. Using HVO-compatible materials in fuel systems and storage tanks may be required.

Water Contamination Risk

Like conventional diesel, HVO fuel is susceptible to water contamination, which can cause corrosion, microbial growth, and engine issues. Proper storage and handling procedures are crucial to prevent water ingress.

Fuel Degradation Concerns

While HVO has a longer shelf life than diesel, there are concerns about potential fuel degradation and stability issues if not stored correctly, which could lead to filter clogging and other problems.

Differences Between HVO and Traditional Diesel

Production Process

Producers create HVO fuel by hydrotreating vegetable oils, animal fats, or waste oils with hydrogen at high temperatures and pressure, which removes impurities and oxygen from the feedstock. In contrast, traditional diesel fuel comes from crude oil through refining processes like distillation and cracking.

Chemical Composition

HVO fuel consists of pure hydrocarbon compounds (paraffin), similar to fossil diesel, making it a "drop-in" replacement fuel. Traditional diesel contains a mixture of hydrocarbons, including aromatics, and may have impurities like sulfur.


HVO fuel is produced from renewable feedstocks like vegetable oils, animal fats, and waste oils, making it a sustainable biofuel.


HVO fuel produces significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions (up to 90% reduction) than conventional diesel. It also emits lower levels of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide.

Cold Weather Performance

HVO fuel has excellent cold flow properties, with a low freezing point of around -30°C, making it suitable for cold climates. Traditional diesel can gel or wax at low temperatures, requiring additives or heating.

Storage Stability

Due to its high purity and lack of impurities, HVO fuel has a longer shelf life of up to 10 years. Conventional diesel has a shorter shelf life of around one year and is more susceptible to degradation and microbial growth.


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