What are low carbon and renewable liquid heating fuels?

For the energy transition in heating, we will need several solutions. Renewable and low carbon liquid fuels is one of them.

Liquid heating fuels have many advantages: they are easy to store and easy to transport, they have a high energy density, which means they are very efficient, and an excellent supply infrastructure.


But what are low carbon and renewable liquid fuels?

The future of oil heating systems in Europe will be based on liquid low carbon and renewable fuels. The technology is proven and research continues to improve the production process. These future liquid fuels can be used in modern condensing boilers without the need for major alterations. Furthermore, the existing supply infrastructure can also be used.

Advantages of liquid heating fuel

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These products are already used in different demonstration plants in many European countries (see our brochure about the EU field tests done together with boiler manufacturers). The general use of low-carbon liquid fuels will take some time to come. These products all have in common that they are drop in products, meaning that they can be easily and progressively incorporated to conventional fuels without any major investment to change the heating system.

There are different types of low-carbon liquid fuels (REDII conform), which are drop-in products that can be mixed in different quantities in the total blend.

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There are different options for raw materials, but one major principle always applies: the feedstock must not compete with food production.

 Different liquid fuels


FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) is based on vegetable oil, which is processed with methanol to a liquid fuel, suitable for oil heating. It is already used in pilot installations.

For more information on FAME: https://youtu.be/LffMoAkv03M



In the Biomass-to-liquid - or BtL - processes, liquid fuels are manufactured which reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared to conventional heating oil. The fuel is derived from different types of vegetable raw materials.

The production is made from waste and residues of biogenic origin. The biomass is converted first in synthesis gas and then into liquid hydrocarbons. These biogenic liquid hydrocarbons can be in proven refinery processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fuels like gasoline, diesel or heating oil to be processed further.

Demonstration plants are available already.

For more information on Biomass-to-liquid: https://youtu.be/aY3-BTtnI8E



HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) is produced from used cooking oil, residues from the food industry and from vegetable oils which are not intended for food. The hydrotreating of vegetable oils and suitable waste, as well as waste fats, for the production of HVO is now a mature technology and the fuel is already available on an industrial scale.

For more information on HVO: https://youtu.be/4JJ3MsMRGjs


Synthetic Fuels / e-fuels 

Synthetic fuels, also called e-fuels, are carbon-neutral and a viable way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions via a closed carbon cycle while keeping the fuel in liquid form. They are produced through PtL (Power-to-Liquid) process. This generates a synthetic liquid fuel by using renewable electricity, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or other sources, and water. Hydrogen is produced from renewable electricity by way of electrolysis. Carbon dioxide is captured from the atmosphere or other sources. The e-fuels are synthesized in a catalyst driven process called the “Fischer-Tropsch” process.

efuels process

Electricity price influences the costs (large amount of electricity required): Prices of max. 2 ct/kWh needed to have fuel prices below 1€ per litre. There are good perspectives for regions with cheap renewable electricity (solar (PV), wind or water power)

For more information on synthetic fuels: https://youtu.be/nxJx9vLUYPE


What are the raw materials used?

 raw materials


Sandrine Devos
Secretary General

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