KUALA LUMPUR (June 8): The government's move to implement the B10 biodiesel mandate from October this year could result in severely damaged vehicle engines, according to worldwide tests conducted on the biodiesel blend by premium German automaker BMW Malaysia Sdn Bhd (BMW Malaysia).
In a statement, BMW Malaysia managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) Alan Harris said the group's tests with the B10 biodiesel found that the B10 causes "oil sludge" and "reduced lubricity", "with the risk of severe engine damage" to vehicles.
Hence, he called on the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities to take into account feedback and opinion of the Malaysian automotive industry before forging ahead with the implementation of the B10 mandate.
“In our tests with B10 biodiesel worldwide, we have found technical challenges present when blending 10% of palm based methyl ester with the current conventional fuel.
“Testing on vehicles have found that Fatty-Acid Methyl Ester (FAME), which boils at high temperatures, will move into the motor oil due to the regeneration setting, resulting in [the] thinning of the motor oil as it does not evaporate when the engine runs at high temperatures,” he added.
Further, Harris said the group’s tests revealed that the B10 blend of biodiesel results in higher levels of water in the fuel, which leads to corrosion of vehicle components that transport the fuel.
This promotes oxidation in the fuel tank, subsequently causing a blocked fuel filter, he added.
He also said the group’s testing identified the formation of deposit films at the fuel injector due to the lack of compatibility of additives with FAME.
“Polymer linings at the injector results in the invariance of the injection, as well as reduces the stability of the idling cycle, creating negative emissions and changes the engine acoustics,” he said.
Harris said that current modern diesel engines in Malaysia are well suited to run on the B7 blend of biodiesel.
He acknowledged that biodiesel is introduced with the intention of promoting the use of clean and green technology as well as to increase the domestic use of palm products in the country, but stressed that "we must ensure that the technology is safe and proven to also benefit the industrial and the automotive sector".
Harris' statement came after Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas said earlier today that Malaysia is expected to implement the B10 biodiesel mandate by October this year.
Uggah had said that discussions with various stakeholders on the implementation of the B10 biodiesel mandate are expected to be completed by the end of this month, by which he is also expected to present a paper to the Cabinet about the programme.
If implemented, it would be the highest biodiesel blend in terms of percentage of palm methyl ester (PME) to petroleum diesel, with PME constituting 10% of the blend.
Malaysia had implemented the B7 biodiesel – 7% of PME with 93% of petroleum diesel – nationwide last year, which was fully completed in January this year.