Thailand's transport sector depends largely on diesel, despite the penetration of cleaner energy like natural gas for vehicle (NGV). Diesel now accounts for 55 per cent of fuel consumed by the transport sector, according to the Energy Ministry.
This spurs the need for biofuels, which are more environmentally friendly. However, biofuel from palm oil is affecting the volume of edible palm oil and price. In focus now is how to extract more biofuel from jatropha and how to ensure that the fuel will not damage diesel engine.
In its quest to answer these questions, the ministry won support from Tri Petch Isuzu Sales, a major pickup distributor.
According to Hiroshi Nakagawa, president of Tri Petch Isuzu, the firm is sponsoring the exhaust test lab as well as Isuzu Common Rail 2500 DDi, D-Max engines, as well as providing other financial support for the six-month study, which will start mid-August.
Nakagawa said the Thai-Japan joint programme would benefit all, as fossil fuels are expected to be used up within 50-70 years from now. He noted that the “Partil Hydrogenation” technology should allow the successful mixture of 5 per cent of jatropha-based biofuel in diesel. He expects this fuel to be commercialised, thanks to cheap production cost.
Thailand, which stipulates compulsory mixture of 5 per cent palm oil-based biofuel in diesel, now consumes 5.97 million litres of palm oil per day. The Kingdom targets to increase alternative fuel consumption to 20 per cent of total energy consumption within 2021.