Biodiesel push leaves trucks prone to engine issues

JAKARTA: The use of biodiesel in commercial vehicles has led to significant engine performance issues, shedding light on the practical consequences of the policy on the automotive sector.

Hino Motors Sales Indonesia chief operating officer Santiko Wardoyo said the use of biodiesel had led to rapid engine heating, increased corrosion and accelerated wear, making engines more prone to breakdowns.

Currently, Indonesia mandates a biodiesel mixture consisting of 35% palm oil-derived fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and the rest of conventional diesel oil, known as B35. “The negative conditions will be even more severe if the biodiesel content is further increased, for example from 35% to 40% or even 50 %,” said Santiko last Thursday.

The biodiesel use has also resulted a jelly-like residue that can clog fuel filters and shorten engine lifespans, he added.

“Implementing biodiesel with a higher plant-based content requires more advanced technology to minimise the residual jelly,” Santiko said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, has been looking to step up its biodiesel production and use it to cut costly fuel imports.

In some cases, the government has also used the policy to maintain the price of its crude palm oil products. The government kickstarted the biodiesel programme in 2008 starting with a 2.5% mixture of FAME and has been increasing the proportion over time.

Last year, it mandated a 35% mixture of FAME and has been planning to increase it to 40% in the future.

President-elect Prabowo Subianto also plans to utilise the biodiesel programme, along with other policies, to expand the agriculture sector as a means of achieving 8% economic growth over the next few years, exceeding the 6% minimum benchmark needed to propel the country’s status to a developed nation by 2045.

In his campaign, Prabowo also advocates raising the blend to 50% FAME.

Hino has responded to the problems by making several changes to its engines, Santiko said, such as installing strainers to filter out water content and enhancing engine durability. — The Jakarta Post/ANN
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