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HVO fuel started making its way to different leisure boatbuilders. It is presenting itself as a new alternative and also transition phase, before switching to fully renewable energy sources as fuel. We covered HVO as a topic slightly in our post about Venice Boat Show, while today we are diving into more detail. Find out more in the text below.


Intro to HVO

Hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) is a renewable diesel which can be produced from various vegetable oils and fats which contain triglycerides and fatty acids. HVO is derived from hydrogenation and hydrocracking of tall oil, rapeseed oil, waste cooking oil, and animal fats. It may also be referred to as Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA). The chemical properties of HVO are in general similar to the properties of fossil fuel. The differences between the two include lower density and energy content from fossil fuel. HVO is free from sulphur, oxygen and aromatic hydrocarbons, while it has a high cetane number. It is the second largest renewable diesel alternative world-wide, used for different applications (ETIP Bioenergy, 2020).

Production process

HVO is produced by hydrogenation and hydrocracking of vegetable oils and animal fats, using hydrogen and catalysts at conditions of high temperature and pressure.The below chemical reactions are used for hydrotreatment.

Hydrotreatment reaction for fatty acids

RCOOH + 2H2 -> R-H + 2H2O

Hydrotreatment reaction for triglycerides (typically vegetable oils)

C3H5(RCOO)3 + 12H2 -> C3H8 + 3RCH3 + 6H2O


Hydrotreated vegetable oils have lower NOx emission & deposit formation. The common issues present with ester-type biodiesel fuels, such as storage stability problems, more rapid aging of engine oil or poor cold properties are less present with HVOs. Moreover,

fuel logistics, engines, exhaust aftertreatment devices and exhaust emissions are not compromised (Aatola et. al., 2008). The test settings in the study by Aatola and colleagues (2008) showed 6% lower NOx and to 35% lower smoke compared with sulfur-free EN 590 diesel fuel.

Image source: Aatola et al. (2008)


Recent news reported by the Superyacht Times state how the Azimut|Benetti Group has signed an agreement with Eni Sustainable Mobility for the supply and use of the biofuel HVOlution. Eni Sustainable Mobility’s Venice and Gela biorefineries are HVOlution’s production spots. The group’s president, Giovanna Vitelli stated “For the Azimut|Benetti Group, this agreement is a tangible step forward on the course we have charted out to reduce CO2 emissions”.

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