Ireland’s leading heating appliance manufacturer Grant, has invested more than €250,000 in pioneering a major R&D breakthrough that could help reduce carbon emissions in rural and hard to heat properties. The breakthrough will also help prevent Irish homeowners from incurring the high cost and subsequent disruption to daily life of deep retrofitting. 

Over the past six years the Grant R&D team has worked with third level institutions, industry partners and renewable fuel producers, focusing on more sustainable and carbon saving fuels and innovating its boilers to be biofuel compatible. 

Founder Stephen Grant

'Commercially viable'

Commenting on the R&D project, founder Stephen Grant said: “In the early days of our research, we identified potential bio and synthetic fuels that would both meet greenhouse gas reduction targets and be commercially viable. This began with developing a boiler that could use a biofuel called FAME (fatty acid methyl esters).

"Our team successfully used a 30% blend of FAME with regular kerosene, although problems arose when the blend of biofuel exceeded 30%. This resulted in increased NOx emissions, issues with fuel storage stability and more rapid aging or poor performance in cold conditions.

“The breakthrough came during testing and field trialling with boilers successfully using 100% biofuel known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO). HVO feedstocks are generally rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, certified sustainable palm oil and non-food oils such as jatropha oil and algae oil as well as waste animal fats. Even more sustainable are waste and residue oils – both of which are now a substantial contributor to the feedstock.” 

While HVO is a relatively new fuel to Ireland, in Europe and the UK it is used for marine and public transport and to power generators. In Europe, Neste a Finnish company, is the largest producer of HVO with plants in Finland and Rotterdam.

Neste, together with other HVO producers are focusing on utilising lower quality waste and residue materials and on the development of promising new raw materials, such as algae and microbial oils. HVO distributors on the island of Ireland include Nicholl Oil in Carryduff, Co Down and Inver Energy in Blackpool, Co Cork.

'88% reduction in carbon emissions'

Grand said: “The use of 100% HVO, can result in about 88% reduction in carbon emissions and using this or a percentage blend of HVO with kerosene, will enable rural and hard to heat Irish properties to transition to a renewable green alternative from 100% kerosene at an affordable cost, with minimum disruption to everyday home lives. In terms of renewable heating, using 100% HVO could in fact provide a more sustainable way to heat existing homes than a heat pump.”

All new Grant condensing boilers are future-proofed to use HVO through making a slight modification to the boiler, such as adapting the size of the fuel injector nozzle, fuel pump pressure and blast tube. Older Grant condensing boilers can also be adapted to HVO, but this may require a new biofuel burner that is matched with the specific boiler. These modifications can be carried out by a service engineer during an annual service.

One very important benefit of HVO to the Irish construction industry is that builders and relevant trades can continue to focus on building new houses in large numbers without being diverted to slow and costly deep retrofitting projects, enabling more heat pumps to be fitted.

Grant is in the process of launching a Service Engineer Biofuel Conversion course through its eLearning Academy. This will cover a basic introduction to HVO, including the necessary steps required to convert boilers to run on this biofuel, and is open to all qualified service engineers and technicians.

Think Heating. Think Grant. 

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