B10 biodiesel to go mainstream in Thailand – B7 out

Malaysia isn’t the only country pushing harder for biodiesel. Thailand’s energy ministry has plans to move B10 biodiesel into the mainstream to replace the current B7 biodiesel used. Availability of B10 as the primary diesel blend will be made from November, and B7 will be phased out at petrol stations before usage is stopped completely from November 2020, the Bangkok Post reports.

The reasons for both countries are the same – to increase the use of crude palm oil and to address environmental issues.

“The ministry is confident that B10 will become the preferred fuel by local motorists because the ministry is providing a grace period of over a year for biodiesel refineries to improve their refining processes and oil formulas; for example a monoglyceride reduction – a form of fatty acid – from 0.7% to below 0.4%. Oil traders have to prepare for B10 availability across the country for diesel-powered pickups, buses and trucks,” said energy minister Siri Jirapongphan.

Thailand is currently trialling B20 biodiesel on big trucks, public buses, express boats and agricultural machinery, but car and pick-up truck manufacturers are more apprehensive on the blend that’s heavier on methyl ester from crude palm oil. The minister forecasts B20 consumption to increase from 70 million litres on average per month to 110 million litres in June.

The Thai government has been subsidising the B20 retail price, making it five baht cheaper than B7. The subsidy programme will expire on July 31 and the B20 price will be cheaper than B7 by three baht per litre. B20 can be bought from 900 stations across the kingdom.

Siri said that with the introduction of B10 biodiesel, the consumption of crude palm oil will reach two million tonnes annually compared to the current 1.5 million tonnes with B7.

Late last year, Malaysia launched a B10 biodiesel programme that it claimed will reduce the emission of 1.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, and boost demand for Malaysian palm oil.

“The air quality, especially in the urban areas, will also increase through the use of biodiesel with the reduced emission of dust and black smoke into the air. The implementation of the B10 programme is apt at this time in view of the lower price of palm oil biodiesel compared to petroleum diesel,” prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said then, adding that the programme will also help the country to achieve its low-carbon mobility objective, as outlined in the 11th Malaysia Plan.

Expect the ratio of palm oil content to increase in the future. “Malaysia needs to increase the fuel mixture in the future to strengthen domestic demand for palm oil,” Mahathir said, citing Indonesia’s B20 programme that has been running since 2016. The PM said that the hoped that all parties will be ready to adopt B20 by year 2020.

According to the the primary industries ministry, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has been carrying out field tests on diesel vehicles without encountering any problem. The tests involved 150,000 litres of B10 biodiesel. There was also an MPOB-DBKL test that clocked up over three million kilometres in just over three and a half years without any breakdowns.

It added that the palm oil-based biodiesel is a renewable energy produced by sustainable palm cultivation, and the use of one tonne of such biodiesel is equivalent to a reduction of three tonnes of CO2 in the air. In Malaysia, palm oil biodiesel was initiated in 2011 with the B5 programme, before this was increased to the current B7 blend from November 2014.

Is B10 safe? We’ve written a fair bit about B10 biodiesel before, and you can learn more about the fuel with the 10% palm oil mix here. Also check out what MPOB’s biodiesel researcher, Dr Harrison Lau, has to say here.

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