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Shell and Malaysian Palm Oil Board in Joint Research on Straight Palm Oil Blending with Diesel

The Star. Shell will work with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) on evaluating Malaysia’s Envo diesel—a 5% blend of palm oil with 95% petroleum diesel. Envo diesel is not a biodiesel blend; it uses straight palm oil, not a methyl ester.

The Malaysian government launched Envo diesel in March 2006 and began trials in government vehicles. The government is targeting requiring the 5% blend by 2007.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin said that Shell and the and the MPOB will conduct joint research on four government vehicles, a bus and two fishing trawlers.

Chin said apart from Petroliam Nasional Bhd, this would be the first time a multinational oil company was helping in the research.

“If the research is succeeds in removing doubts about its usage, it will provide an alternative fuel for Malaysians,” he said, adding that he was happy Shell was actively encouraging the use of palm as the most cost-effective raw material to produce bio-fuel.


Rafael Seidl

Malaysia never suffers cold temperatures and has very lenient emissions limits (HC+NOx 0.97/1.36* CO 2.72 and PM 0.1 g/km; *higher limit for direct injection diesels; cp. Euro 1 & 2). This means the chief issues with SVO (high cold filter plug point, high PM) should not be showstoppers. Avoiding the transesterification step obviously reduces fuel cost.

However, using *pure* SVO in unmodified modern turbodiesel engines can cause problems: the higher energy density of SVO raises combustion temps, affecting delicate high-pressure injector nozzles and overrevving the turbocharger. A recent test by Germany's AutoBild based on a brand-new VW ended in total engine failure after several thousand kilometers. The damage can be avoided by adjusting the injection systems fuel mass map and other measures, but retrofitting/reprogramming older vehicles already on the road is highly undesirable/infeasible.

For a diesel blend containing just 5% SVO, it is quite possible that the impact on both emissions and component life expectancy remain within tolerance.


So it is not even a B5, what do we call it then? SVO5? Rafael, r u sure that SVO has higher energy density then diesel?

The MPOB starting point of using this Envo-diesel is that even 100% SVO can be used, it shouldn't be a problem by burning just 5%.

Meanwhile, it is already October 2006 now, won't it be kinda rushy to do any research on this EnvoDiesel which is to be required by 2007? It is not like doing a blood test you see. The research should be started in the beginning when they started to look into SVO blend many years ago.

BTW, 95% of the vehicles in the country are gasoline burners. There is yet to have any "EnvoPetrol" plans yet.

Bud Johns

Rafael, other vegetable oils have about 10% less energy than deisel, is palm oil different??

Rafael Seidl

rexis, bud -

my apologies, I double-checked and you are both right: SVO does indeed appear to have lower energy density than diesel, both in gravimetric and in volumetric terms. The higher combustion temperatures observed in the AutoBild test must therefore have been due to something else, perhaps a higher fuel flow rate through the injector nozzles?

Regrettably, my knowledge in this regard is not as solid as I thought it was. SVO advocates have long disputed there is any issue at all, especially on the large-displacement diesels used in some pick-up trucks. It's conceivable that manufacturers are simply playing it extra safe to avoid a potential PR and warranty problem. It is also very possible that diesel fuel injection systems and turbocharger designs vary widely in their susceptibility to SVO-related damage.

As for the timeframe available for testing in Malaysia, it could be that the pace is being forced by the political clout of Malaysia's palm oil producers. The authorities may also be satisfied with a more modest testing program than their counterparts in the developed world would be - especially considering Malaysia's tolerance of higher emissions levels.


Rafael, could you point us to the Autobild article please? Very interested in this.

There are many thousands of Germans running older VWs on SVO straight from the supermarket but there is some discussion as to reliability with newer engine types. My car runs on SVO no probs.


OK, found the articles.

The first one, the German reporter drives thousands of miles in an older indirect injection Golf TDi using straight vegetable oil, unmodified. No problems were experienced in that time other than more difficult starting in very cold weather (although it always did start eventually).

In the second article, 2006, they decided to see if a modern pumpe-duse type diesel could work as well on SVO, so tried running a brand new Golf diesel on SVO for a while. The answer was no! The fuel pump broke at 4239 km.,GGLJ:2006-32,GGLJ:en

Looks like I'll be sticking to indirect injection SVO engines for now.

Rafael Seidl

Hi Clett -

here you go. Hope you know German. Note that this particular test was based on a completely *unmodified* brand-new VW Golf TDi (Generation 5) brning *pure* SVO. After driving just 4239km in five weeks, consisting of one long trip to Spain and many short trips in winter conditions, the damage came to EUR 5500: broken air mass sensor, leading to broken turboshaft, cavitation damage to the injectors and oil dilution with subsequent damage to crankshaft and main bearings.

The article also refers to previous endurance testing conducted in 2000/2001 with a 16-year old MY1984 Golf which did not suffer any damage. The engine in the current-generation Golf is a direct-injection design with unit injectors (Pumpe-Duese in German) and much higher specific power than the one from 1984. It also has to meet far more stringent emissions regs.

Btw, the same magazine also published an article on how to modify your vehicle for SVO operation:


hi. i am nazrul.just wanna to ask bout the making of soap by using plam oil.anybody can give me the details step,chemical used and others related materials.please email me at

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Virender Kumar

Just want to know more about the industry concerned to oil palm tree.

hi and good day
as of now i'm putting up hybrid car 50% hydrogen and 50% gasoline as an answer to the higher price of the gasoline anyone who knows a group or investor so that i can complete this project. thank you.

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