The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS), is warning farmers and businesses who use sulphur free gas oil (SFGO) in their non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) to be prepared for the potential increased use of FAME in SFGO.
The FPS wants all distributors and users of SFGO to be aware of the impact the changes to the Renewable Fuel Transport Obligation (RTFO) target for renewable fuels in the UK will have on mobile equipment.
“In April this year, the legally required percentage of fuels derived from renewable sources increased to 7.25percent – and from 1 January 2019, this will rise to 8.5percent and keep rising till it reaches 12.4percent by 2032,” explains Tony Brown, FPS Technical Manager.
“All suppliers are obligated to meet the new targets but free on just how they reach each target. There are different ways to achieve this, including the addition of FAME to SFGO – and it is this that we want to warn all users of NRMM of as the FPS understands numerous suppliers cannot guarantee their SFGO will be free of FAME.
“It may be that road diesel, including FAME, will be marked and supplied for NRMM use – and it is important that business owners and farmers who use mobile machinery, are aware of what this could mean for them.”
FAME is a biodiesel, made in the UK from recycled cooking oils but also from blends of renewable and recyclable matter like animal fats and plant oils. The process converts the material into long chain molecules, also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) with the end product a powerful solvent that is not compatible with all materials.
“The increased use of FAME in SFGO could lead to issues and challenges for many users of the fuel as FAME is corrosive to certain materials such as rubber and can cause filters to clog and increase the risk of bacterial growth as well as instability levels of the fuel,” warns Tony Brown.
“Given that SFGO is used for non-road mobile machinery, the change will affect a range of equipment including tractors and other agricultural equipment, forestry equipment, construction machinery, forklift trucks, portable generators, inland waterway vessels, and recreational craft.
“The good news is there are, however, steps farmers and businesses can take to prepare for the change.
“Before taking delivery of any biofuel, give the tank a specialist clean or check on the tank immediately after. Continue to carry out regular tank checks and take remedial action if you notice any water, dirt, mould or growth in the tank.
“It’s worth examining filters, pipework and seals on a regular basis, and to replace filters after every 2 or 3 deliveries anyway.
“Most NRMM engines are thankfully compatible with fuel containing FAME in the proportion found in fuel but farmers and businesses who own older equipment may need to make modifications such as the inclusion of a drain point in the tank to remove any water build-up.
“As water is a big problem for SFGO containing FAME, it’s recommended to limit storage time of FAME blended fuels, and to keep the tanks topped up to reduce air which can draw moisture.
“One of the biggest steps users can take is to ensure all fuel is bought from a reputable distributor, ideally from a member of the FPS, and a list of distributors can be found on oilsave.org.uk”