Grant Engineering has pioneered a major R&D breakthrough with biofuels, a development that could help reduce carbon emissions in rural, hard-to-heat homes with minimal disruption and reduced costs.
Over the past few years, the Grant R&D Team have been working on more sustainable and carbon saving fuels, investing over €250,000 and testing these low carbon fuels in its boilers to enable them to be biofuel ready. The trials have involved working with some third level institutions, industry partners and renewable fuel producers to test the use of biofuels in Grant boilers. The research involved successfully using a biofuel called FAME (fatty acid methyl esters) which could be used as a 30% blend with regular kerosene. However, the breakthrough arose when the field trials successfully demonstrated the boilers using a 100% biofuel known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).
HVO feedstocks include rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, certified sustainable palm oil and non-food oils as well as waste and residue oils. The materials it uses and its method of production are more sustainable that FAME. HVO is already used as a fuel for marine and public transport and availability of the fuel here in the UK is increasing, steadily growing in the past two years.
The use of HVO, either at 100% (resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions of up to 88%) or a percentage blend with kerosene, will allow rural properties to transition to a renewable, green alternative from 100% kerosene at an affordable cost and with minimum disruption to their home lives. The layout, construction and existing heat design of older buildings can make the retrofitting of a heat pump a complicated project. Whereas new builds are ideally suited to heat pumps due to their low heat loss and excellent insulation, some older properties require multiple adaptions, such as building fabric upgrades and measures to increase air tightness, in order to be suitable for a heat pump. These measures can increase the installation costs which could, for some, make swapping to a heat pump too expensive.
Biofuels provide a viable alternative for older buildings which are currently incorporating a high temperature heating system, such as an oil-fired boiler. All of Grant’s condensing boilers are compatible for use with HVO so only minor modifications need to be made to the boiler in order to swap it from kerosene oil to HVO, including adapting the size of the fuel injector nozzle, fuel pump pressure and blast tube, and these are measures that installers can complete during a regular, annual service.
“The use of HVO biofuel is incredibly exciting because it provides a further solution to low carbon heating for homeowners and their installers,” comments Paul Wakefield, Grant UK’s Managing Director.
“It could enable existing off-gas residential homes, which are currently being heated by oil, to decarbonise their heating without having to undergo significant changes to their home. Upgrading an old inefficient oil boiler to a new Grant condensing boiler will not only reduce a home’s emissions straightaway due to the high operating efficiencies of all Grant boilers, but the boiler will be ready for HVO when supplies become more widely available. Between our biofuel compatible oil boilers, our air source heat pumps and our other renewable technologies, Grant UK has a renewable heating system to suit all types of properties, making a greener, sustainable future a reality for all homes.”