Europe's new specifications for paraffinic diesel fuels hold out promising potential for gas-to-liquids (GTL) from Qatar, according to Shell.
The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) announced that the ‘EN15940’ standard for paraffinic diesel fuels, such as Shell Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) Fuel, was ratified on April 15, 2016.
Paraffinic diesel fuels are liquid fuels that can be synthetically manufactured from feed-stocks such as natural gas (GTL), biomass (biomass-to-liquid), coal (coal-to-liquid) or from hydro-treating vegetable oil (HVO).
Shell was involved in the nine-year consultation process, having first proposed the creation of a specification in 2007, before the largest GTL facility, Pearl GTL, came on stream in Qatar.
‘EN15940’ will now create a standardised platform for markets to develop around paraffinic fuels. These 100% finished fuels can be used as drop-in fuels and have the potential to improve local air quality without the need for engine modifications or changes in existing fuel infrastructure, according to a Shell spokesman.
“This is a significant milestone for our Shell GTL fuel business. EN15940 will now become the fuel standard that is referred to when manufacturers and legislators stipulate conditions specifically concerning use of paraffinic fuels," Michael Flynn, general manager for GTL Products at Shell, said.
Manufacturers may now consider adding EN15940 to a list of approved fuels in their equipment user manuals, he said, adding this will also bring quality and safety assurances to customers.
“Shell believes GTL Fuel will play an increasingly important role in the fuel mix for heavy duty transport, be it road or marine, and machinery, especially in regions where governments are keen to improve local air emissions immediately. This new European standard opens more doors for the use of cleaner burning Shell GTL fuel today,” Flynn added.
Shell GTL Fuel is part of the emerging paraffinic fuel market, offering a cleaner-burning alternative fuel produced at Pearl GTL in Ras Laffan, Qatar, a partnership with Qatar Petroleum. This world-scale plant produces 140,000 barrels per day of GTL products including Shell GTL Fuel.
Shell GTL Fuel can be used as a drop-in fuel in diesel engines without the need for engine modifications, new infrastructure or vehicle investment. It is virtually sulphur-and aromatics free, readily biodegradable and non-toxic.
It also helps reduce local emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. It is commercially available to customers in Europe, primarily in The Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Denmark and France.
Paraffinic fuels do not fully meet the EN590 specification because they have slightly lower density. However, paraffinic fuels now offer significantly improved and favourable fuel properties. They compensate for their low density with higher energy content and cetane number, and the higher consistency of the fuel molecules mean they combust more uniformly in diesel engines compared with conventional refinery diesel, resulting in lower emissions.
Shell has conducted several field trials on Shell GTL fuel in major cities around the world over the past decade, covering over 1mn kilometres. Key market segments for Shell GTL fuel include city utility vehicles and public transport, inland and seagoing marine vessels, construction machinery and vehicles, power generation equipment, aviation ground fleets and rail.
It is currently being used by heavy-lifting and transport specialist, Mammoet and the City of Groningen’s utility vehicles, both in the Netherlands; luxury river cruise operators on the Seine in France; and the first GTL-fuelled offshore vessel, Kroonborg, in the North Sea, among many other customers.
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