|The WVO Envirocar|
Red Book. South Korean car manufacturer SsangYong—known for its SUVs and now owned 51% by China’s SAIC—is apparently using New Zealand as a test-bed for Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) as a fuel.
The company has provided a 2.9-liter turbo-diesel Musso that NZ firm Renewable Energy Solutions has converted to a dual-fuel vehicle running on either “Envirofuel”—recycled waste cooking oil—or conventional diesel fuel.
Renewable Energy Solutions is also in the process of converting a 2.7-liter, common-rail diesel SsangYong Stavic (a new 7-seater MPV) to test the fuel.
One issue with using straight vegetable oil in a diesel is its viscosity. The oil must be heated (thinned) so that it can be properly atomized by the fuel injectors. If it’s not properly atomized, it won’t burn properly, forming deposits on the injectors and in the cylinder head, leading to poor performance, higher emissions, and reduced engine life.
The solution is basically two tanks (one for diesel, one for vegetable oil), a heater for the vegetable oil and an injection management system that can handle both.
Chairman of SsangYong importer Rapson Holdings, Russell Burling, told GoAuto the use of Envirofuel was still in the “embryo” stages but that he would like to trial the technology in Australia.
The company is planning to bring in a NZ engineer next month to look at the local requirements.
“SsangYong Korea is also interested,” Mr Burling said. “Definitely with the way fuel prices have gone we must investigate alternatives.”
The Renewable Energy Solutions conversion costs NZ $5,000 (US $3,425), and provides the recycled waste oil for NZ $0.40 per liter (US $1.02 per gallon).
At the time of SAIC’s initial acquisition of 48.9% of SsangYong in January, SsangYong CEO So Jin-kwan noted that a new mid-sized sports-utility vehicle (SUV) was coming (now the Kyron) and would be marketed in China badged as a SsangYong.
He also stated that SsangYong will concentrate on developing environmentally friendly engines, with a diesel-hybrid engine possible. Currently, SsangYong uses Mercedes technology in its vehicles.
While the WVO option is most likely not what So Jin-kwan had in mind as a strategic development, the openness to exploring different avenues is interesting.