• Ron Kotrba

UK heritage ‘narrowboat’ craft powered by renewable diesel

U.K.-based hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) provider Crown Oil recently announced it has joined forces with Jonathon Mosse, a member of the Inland Waterways Association’s Sustainable Boating Group, to trial HVO in an inland craft’s heritage and classic engine under full support of the National Association of Boat Owners.


nb Spey (Photo: Crown Oil)

The idea is to “safeguard the boating industry’s legacy in a net zero carbon future,” Crown Oil stated. “For this series of trials, Jonathan teamed up with travel writer and musician Tom Kitching, who is currently living on a 1937 unconverted wooden-hulled oil tanker, the nb Spey, which has the original single cylinder hot bulb engine—the perfect showcase for the trials. The historic English heritage boat embarked on a 200-mile, 12-day journey on the Bridgewater Canal from Little Bollington to London while running on red HVO to test how well the renewable diesel performs in a Bolinder 15-horsepower, single-cylinder, two-stroke crude oil engine.”


Although renewable diesel is endorsed by many modern-day diesel OEMs, the point of this trial was to see if it would work in an old, “craggy” engine whose maker is no longer in business.


The results of the trial indicated a more responsive engine and cleaner exhaust. After several trials, nb Spey now runs full-time on red HVO, reducing CO2 by 90 percent while lowering NOx and particulate-matter emissions.


“I can report that fuel consumption improved dramatically, fumes and smoke from the exhaust were greatly reduced, the engine was quieter, more predictable and controllable, while persuading it to reverse in time of need—and when she picked up an inner-city ‘blade-full’—was considerably more reliable,” Mosse said. “The HVO trial with Spey has been a great success. The outcome bodes very well for the entire heritage sector running diesel engines. Crown Oil wants to show that it’s a direct replacement for all diesel engines, and I’m happy to help prove that it can work. We’ve run trials with it these last few weeks and have now made the switch for good. This will reduce our engine’s greenhouse emissions by around 80-90 percent, as the fuel is created from renewable sources.”


Mosse added that nb Spey “is excited to continue steaming through the heart of the canal country to help spread the word about this new generation fuel on the inland waterways.”


Going forward, the IWA will be calling for greater use of HVO on the waterways.

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