The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has recently expanded the use of 20 percent blended (B20) biodiesel in the Indonesian transportation sector in an effort to reduce carbon emissions in the country.
Starting 2016, the ministry mandated only public transportation service operators — including large vehicles such as trucks — to adopt B20 as their fuel, but starting Sept. 1, this mandate also applies to privately owned motor vehicles.
According to the ministry’s press release, many research studies have shown that B20 biodiesel use is capable of decreasing motor vehicles’ carbon dioxide emissions by 6 million to 9 million tons per year compared to pure diesel oil. Furthermore, the press release states the use of B20 can also improve the overall quality of motor vehicles’ fuel combustion.
“Our trial use of B20 fuel in motor vehicles in 2014, which covered a track spanning 40,000 kilometers nonstop, demonstrated that the biodiesel’s use did not significantly alter motor vehicle performance. Its use also did not cause any technical problems for motor vehicles,” said Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry natural resources economy expert staff Dadan Kusdiana during a press conference on Sept. 4.
Dadan added that although B20 contained less calorie value, motor vehicles did not have to use a significantly higher amount of B20 fuel in order to attain the same combustion level and generate the same amount of energy that pure diesel oil had.
“Based on our 2014 trial, the use of B20 increased fuel consumption by only 1 to 2 percent,” Dadan explained.
There is also much false information about B20 use circulating among the general public. The most common ones are that B20 use could cause cracks in motor vehicle tanks, or that they harmfully stain the vehicles’ oil filters.
Several sources present during the press conference debunked those myths. To begin with, Dadan explained that biodiesel was an esterase element, which accelerated hydrolysis, which in actuality helped to dissolve cracks and dirt that had accumulated on the surface of a vehicle’s machinery, fuel transfer pumps and tanks after they had been used for several months or years.
“This exact process is what makes your oil filter very dirty when you adopt B20 for the very first time. After you refuel your B20 for the third or fourth time, however, your oil filter will not be as dirty as when you first used it, and the dirt it initially caused will not lead to machine corrosion or damage,” Dadan explained.
The Association of Indonesian Automotive Manufacturers (Gaikindo) industrial development section secretary Abdul Rohim also confirmed Dadan’s explanations through his own experience, where the staining of oil filters at the start of B20 use eventually signified the “purification” process, which the biodiesel’s soluble esterase element was carrying out on the cracks and dirt that had accumulated in the vehicle’s machinery.
“A lot of heavy vehicles have been using B20 for almost three years and none of these containers’ operations have stalled [due to machine damage]. This serves as proof that mass B20 use does not cause any problems, whether for big vehicles or private motor vehicles,” Abdul said.
Indonesian Bioenergy Experts Association chairman Tatang Hernas Soerawidjaja even testified that since he had started using B20 in 2006, the biodiesel caused no operational troubles for his privately used car.
“I do not need to modify my car’s machinery at all [to adjust the car to B20 use]; I still use an multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) diesel machine until today. My transition from using a B10 [10 percent blended biodiesel fuel] into B20 has caused no problems,” Tatang said.
“If the general public members have any inquiries about B20 use, please call our ministry’s call center at 136, or the Palm Oil Plantation Management Body’s call center at 14036,” Dadan advised.