THE RTFO – WHAT IS IT, WHAT IS CHANGING AND WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON THE FUEL USER?
RTFO stands for Road Transport Fuel Obligation. It is the UK government’s means of forcing fuel used in on-road and off-road vehicles to be sourced from sustainable and renewable resources. As of 15th April 2018, 7.25% of the total fuel volume supplied to these market sectors must come from a renewable resource. This will usually mean the addition of ethanol in petrol and the addition of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) in gas oil and diesel.
The responsibility for meeting this target falls to those companies registered with the RTFO administrator at the Department of Transport. These companies are fuel producers; fuel importers and traders; distributors having very large volumes of fuel in storage; or agents of these organisations.
Current fuel standards limit the volume of ethanol in unleaded petrol to 10% v/v and the volume of FAME in both diesel and gas oil to 7% v/v. Until now petrol has typically contained 5% by volume ethanol, diesel 4-5% by volume FAME and gas oil <0.5% by volume FAME.
These percentages will clearly need to rise within the bounds of the relevant fuel standards. It is unlikely that for commercial, operational and market preference reasons that the volume of ethanol in petrol will be increased immediately. The majority of the increase, therefore, will likely be seen with additional FAME being introduced to diesel and gas oil. Exemption certificates are available but they are now more expensive and in increasingly limited supply.
The inherent problems of FAME in fuel are well documented and we can expect that these will only be exacerbated as the proportion of FAME increases. To this end:
- Fuel shelf life will be greatly reduced – discolouration, gum formation and deposit lay-down in storage
- The water content of fuel will increase – poor fuel performance, potential for fuel-water emulsion formation leading to filter and line blockages
- Increase in the likelihood of ‘bug’ growth – rapid infestations, filter and line blockages leading to fuel starvation
- The cold weather performance will be much reduced – probable likely increase in the frequency of waxing issues leading to blocked lines and fuel starvation
- Layering in tanks – separation of crude-derived fuel and biofuel, leading to irregular fuel performance, early waxing of the bio-component and blocked lines and filters, even in summer
- Unless the supplier provides a written guarantee of specification and FAME content, consumers won’t know what is being delivered…
- EN590 delivered by a local fuel supplier is most likely NOT the same as the EN590 purchased from a retail forecourt, which will contain marketing and performance additives.
- EN590 as supplied to the off-road sector is not a utopian fuel and ideally requires additional treatment to meet the needs of Tier 4 vehicles.
- Main difference with EN590 over BS2869:A2 is that EN590 provides a higher cetane number, everything else is broadly similar.
Talk to your exocet® contact NOW about Anti Bug products, Fuel Store Plus, Diesel Supreme, Gas Oil Extra, Gas Oil Supreme and Petrol Supreme.