22/04/2008 (The Star Online) - WHAT became of EnvoDiesel, the made-in-Malaysia biofuel launched on a high note by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi two years ago?
EnvoDiesel is a biofuel created through a research project under the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB). It is a blend of 95% petroleum diesel and 5% processed liquid palm oil (PLPO). The palm oil here is the same with the pure cooking palm oil sold at supermarkets.
It was announced that the country planned to start selling EnvoDiesel locally in 2008. In January, MPOB chairman Datuk Sabri Ahmad said at the Reuters Global Agriculture and Biofuel Summit that this would be the year for a gradual implementation of a limited use of EnvoDiesel.
Earlier, however, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui had said the government was reviewing the plan for mandatory biodiesel blending due to the high price of crude palm oil (CPO).
Nothing solid has been announced just yet but as far as one of the major users - Kuala Lumpur City Hall - is concerned, the Malaysian biofuel is performing ably.
“Some 66 out of City Hall's 1,600 vehicles are powered by the biofuel. Two years down the road, none of the vehicles has shown any problems,” City Hall Mechanical Engineering Department director M. Ashaari Othman said.
“So far everything has been acceptable. The biofuel does not give any problems even when the vehicles are going outstation because it is interchangeable with normal diesel,” he said.
The vehicles using EnvoDiesel are identified with stickers at the back and on the dashboard. Among the types of vehicles are pick-up trucks, tipper lorries, water tankers, wheeled shovels and passenger vans.
The biofuel is pumped at the department’s depot at the 4th Mile Jalan Cheras where two skid tanks with a capacity of 18,000litres each are used for blending and storage. MPOB provides PLPO every month while City Hall supplies the petroleum diesel.
The use of biofuel does not save costs significantly even though PLPO is cheaper than petroleum diesel as it makes up only 5% but its impact on the environment is important.
“It is a renewable energy source and it cuts down on pollutants. It is also a way to stabilise palm oil prices,” Ashaari said.
Even the direct users - the drivers - feel that they are in a cleaner environment as the smell of the exhaust is less choking as compared to vehicles using normal diesel.
“Some of the drivers said the engines became less powerful but some commented otherwise, that’s just a preconception. In fact, laboratory tests have shown a reduction in engine strength but that’s only in the range of 5% to 7%, which cannot be felt and does not affect the vehicle’s performance,” Ashaari explained.
He pointed out that there was a higher fuel usage of only 5% to 7%, but this had yet to be certified as other factors could have existed.
However, despite the benefits, City Hall has not asked to expand the use of this biofuel to its other vehicles.
“We are only an end user in this project,” Ashaari said.