PostNord’s vision is to be an environmentally sound choice for our customers, and one priority is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Because the business is dependent on transport, an important aspect of environmental conservation efforts is to make transport operations as efficient as possible. One part of this is to identify alternative fuels for our vehicles, which today run, for example, on diesel or petrol.
PostNord is participating in the trials by leasing two Volvo FH trucks that run on BioDME for two years. The trucks, as pictured, will be used in our normal distribution activities in Sweden. They will operate between the cities of Stockholm and Jönköping, where special filling stations have been installed.
The vehicles have been developed by Volvo Trucks over several years, and the technology is now mature enough for major field trials under real operating conditions. In addition to testing a new fuel in the field, PostNord is also in this way playing a part in advancing the development of sustainable biofuels and technology.
BioDME (where DME stands for dimethyl ether) produces, over a lifecycle perspective, emissions of fossil carbon dioxide that are 95% lower than diesel. The fossil element comes into play during distribution of the fuel to the filling stations. On the other hand, no fossil carbon dioxide emissions are produced when the vehicle is running on BioDME. The exhaust gases produced contain basically no soot particles, and in itself DME is not toxic to breathe in.
BioDME can be extracted, for example, from the waste from timber production or from black liquor, a by-product of paper pulp manufacture. The fuel used in the trials is being extracted from black liquor at a plant in Piteå. One advantage of BioDME is that very little energy is lost from the raw material, wood, until the fuel is used in vehicles, compared to other biofuels.
According to Chemrec, the company behind the method of producing BioDME, up to 25% of today’s petrol and diesel consumption in Sweden could be phased out if all pulp mills started producing BioDME.
The project is being managed by Volvo Trucks, in association with Sweden’s Chemrec and Preem, with support from bodies including the European Union and the Swedish Energy Agency. Other partners are Haldor Topsoe, Total, ETC and Delphi. The project began in 2008 and will conclude in 2010. To find out more, go to www.biodme.eu.
If the outcome of the tests is positive, BioDME may become an important fuel in heavy goods transport. This will require combined efforts from stakeholders in the production of fuel, automotive manufacturers and consumers in order to build up an infrastructure and market.
Environmental Officer, Business area Logistics