Interest in switching to biofuel after successful initial trials

Written by Katia Damborsky, Boat International

Interest in a new type of HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) fuel for superyachts has spiked, according to reports from engine manufacturer Caterpillar and the fuel’s producer, Fioul 83.

The diesel alternative, which is marketed under the name Cristal Power XTL100, claims to offer a 90 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions on the basis that is made from recycled oil which has already made its environmental impact. While the biofuel still emits nitrogen oxides, it does not emit any sulphur and claims to be 100 per cent odour-free and compatible with all engine types without an increase in fuel consumption.

A presentation and demonstration of the new biofuel brought together a number of representatives from across the maritime industry to discuss the benefits and challenges of the new fuel in Antibes last Friday (January 20). The event was spearheaded by Fioul 83 co-manager Philippe Falaize and Jean-Maxime Berthet, captain on board the 44 metre superyacht Lammouche, which is currently trialling the new fuel.

Read More about the 44m superyacht Lammouche trialing biofuel

For superyachts, one of the biggest benefits is an improvement in onboard comfort as the biofuel promises no smell and no black smoke. According to Berthet, the biggest challenges are access, distribution and cost.

Cost could be a particular issue for yachts using biofuel when chartering. Berthet estimates that Cristal Power XTL100 costs around 18 per cent more than traditional diesel— but tax regulations mean the increase could spike as high as 50 – 70 per cent. “Even if we are confident that [charterers] will be happy to pay the extra money for using HVO, we cannot guarantee it,” explained Berthet. Cristal Power XTL100 is eligible for VAT exemptions under certain charter contracts, including the MYBA contract.

The other obstacle is authorisation, as not “all manufacturers are willing to guarantee or accept this [alternative],” explained Romain Guilbaud, senior technical manager at Fraser. Caterpillar was one of the only engine manufacturers to greenlight the fuel alternative, but as of January 24, MTU also recorded its approval.

Daniel Towart, parts and services sales representative at Eneria, Caterpillar’s marine engine dealer, called the fuel alternative a “step in the right direction” and highlighted its sustainable properties. “It requires no modifications, no refit, you can just use the existing engines that will be in place for years to come,” he said.

The next step will be educating yacht management firms and promoting awareness of the fuel among yacht owners. “We are still pioneers, and a lot of people are waiting on our feedback [from Lammouche],” added Berthet. Currently, Berthet is monitoring how the biofuel on Lammouche behaves over the winter bunker period.

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