Paraffinic fuels and their benefits

Paraffinic fuels are competitive, fully fungible and available today. Paraffinic Fuels are a new generation of cleaner transport fuels with near zero sulphur and aromatics, made through the Fischer-Tropsch process from natural gas (GTL) or biomass (BTL), or through hydrotreatment process from vegetable oils or animal fats (HVO). Their introduction would mean immediate improvements in air quality and, in the case of HVO and BTL, the decarbonisation of transport fuels.

Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) fuels are produced from natural gas using the Fischer-Tropsch process in sites near gas reserves around the world. Companies involved in GTL production include Shell, Petro SA, Sasol, Petronas, Chevron, Mitsubishi, Qatar Petroleum, NNPC, Calumet, and Oxford Catalysts/Velocys.

Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) is a renewable diesel fuel made by a refinery-based process converting vegetable oils to paraffins. Animal fats are also suitable for feedstocks. Because they are hydrocarbons, they largely meet conventional diesel fuel requirements, apart from ester specifications. PropertIes of this non-ester-type, bio-based fuel are very similar to GTL and BTL.

Biomass-To-Liquids (BTL) uses biomass such as woodchips as feedstock to gasification and the Fischer-Tropsch process. While the technology is less advanced than GTL or HVO, several new BTL plants are being developed, supported by NER300 funding from the EU. BTL needs further investment for development but has the potential to use sustainable biomass resources in Europe.