Much has already been written about the subject of B10 biodiesel, which still hasn’t been introduced despite plans to have done so. Delayed several times, it was announced last November that its implementation has been deferred indefinitely, although that move was said to have been due to the unfavourable price of crude palm oil versus that of regular diesel.

A lot of the reservations about the fuel centres around the fuel’s suitability for Malaysia’s diesel-powered vehicles, and there’s been no shortage of conjecture on that front. Over the past year, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) has been actively seeking to clear misconceptions and address public concerns regarding B10 through various forms of engagement and explaining aspects of B10 in detail.

Still, nothing like actual field tests to offer reliable evidence as to the suitability of B10, and that’s what the MPOB has done, announcing that the fuel has aced a long-term test carried out by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

In just a little over three-and-a-half-years, more than three million km of independent testing has been carried out on B10 by DBKL without a single case of fuel-related breakdown being experienced. The authority has been one of the first third-party consumers of B10 biodiesel – testing commenced in January 2014 involving 50 vehicles of various sizes and engine capacity, from pick-up trucks and five-tonne lorries to vans, heavy machinery and excavators.

These vehicles obtained their supply of B10 via two 16,000 litre skid tanks at DBKL, and in terms of mileage, accumulated an average between 60,000 to 70,000 km of travel, with one of its five-tonne lorries recording more than 200,000 km. The vehicles in service with DBKL’s fleet range from three years to 15 years in age, and are Euro 2 and Euro 3 compliant.

Two specific vehicles, a Nissan Navara pick-up truck and a Nissan five-tonne lorry are due for a more detailed inspection involving an engine tear down, which is expected to be jointly-conducted by MPOB, Nissan Japan and Edaran Tan Chong Motor.

According to Muhammad Alif Muhammad Noor, a mechanical engineer at DBKL’s mechanical and electrical engineering department, the city council is seriously considering extending the use of B10 to its entire 2,040 vehicle fleet.

“The use of B10 biodiesel is in line with DBKL’s very own policy of creating a greener city. What is most obvious is that B10 has reduced exhaust emissions and lower toxicity levels compared to petroleum-based diesel,” he explained. In a Department of Environment (DOE) free acceleration test to measure Hartridge Smoke Unit (HSU) levels, the DBKL vehicles using B10 registered a HSU reading of between 2.7 and 2.8, well under the stipulated level of 50 HSU.

Positives were also reported by those using B10 out in the field. “The use of B10 also registered minimal fuel savings. We normally consume about 11 litres per hour, but with B10 that consumption was reduced to 10 litres per hour. What is visibly obvious is the reduced smoke emissions when the machine is in use,” said Hamdan Main, the driver of DBKL’s Hitachi excavator.

The difference in power between B10 and the current grade of commercially-available diesel for heavy vehicles was negligible, according to five-tonne lorry driver Rahman Ismail, who is primarily responsible for ferrying heavy loads of tree trimmings and averages between 70 and 80 km of travel a day. This was echoed by Ballu Subayan, who drives DBKL’s general workers in the Nissan Navara pick-up truck daily.

The B10 blend that is slated to be introduced at petrol stations nationwide consists of 10% palm methyl ester and 90% regular diesel fuel. Cleaner Euro 5 diesel will remain on a B7 blend, as will all diesel fuels sold in the highlands such as Cameron and Genting Highlands.

The MPOB says the formulation is not only cleaner, but superlatively more beneficial – it has been estimated that the introduction of B10 and B7 for the transport and industrial sectors will remove emissions equivalent to 600,000 cars on the road.