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Recycled cooking oil used on super sewer project offers reduction in emissions, new data reveals

Recycled cooking oil used on super sewer project offers reduction in emissions, new data reveals

  • Tideway, the super sewer project, today publishes research showing effect of switch to HVO fuel in road and river vehicles
  • Sustainably sourced ‘HVO’ fuel in lorries found to emit half the level of NOx gases
  • The recycled cooking oil fuel used in barges produces almost a third less CO2, and almost two thirds less CO

Recycled cooking oil being used in lorries and barges on the super sewer project offers a reduction in a wide range of emissions, according to new research.

Contractors on the project began using ‘hydrotreated vegetable oil’ (HVO) instead of diesel to fuel a number of HGVs and barges in 2020/21 as part of a wider strategy to reduce air pollution.

And now, the efficacy of that switch can be revealed, after an independent emissions specialist conducted ‘tailpipe’ testing on lorries and barges being used on the Tideway project.

British firm Emissions Analytics (EA) found that in both road and marine vehicles, the transition from diesel to HVO offered reductions in various emissions.

For example, switching the river tug to HVO significantly reduced carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions when compared to the diesel equivalent.

In addition, EA found a 38.6% reduction in nitrogen oxides and a 47.6% reduction in particulate emissions from the river tug when switched to HVO fuel.

Likewise, the HGV road vehicles showed a 50.7% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions, which can exacerbate heart and lung conditions, compared to the diesel equivalent.

The results from the HGV testing, however, did reveal a slight increase in particulate emissions when compared to the diesel equivalent, however the emissions remain well within the regulated limit.

Gordon Sutherland, Road Logistics Manager, said: “These results show that making the switch from diesel to HVO fuel has a number of benefits and can be utilised as part of a range of measures to reduce carbon emissions.

“Unlike fossil fuels, which are extracted and refined before use, this HVO fuel is essentially a waste product from the cooking industry, so being able to power our vehicles with it, while offering a reduction in emissions, is an important step for our industry.”

HVO is a transitional fuel created by processing lipids such a vegetable oil or used cooking oil into a less polluting alternative to diesel.  

Some studies have linked HVO fuels to deforestation, however the HVO fuel used on the Tideway project is sustainably sourced and 100% waste-derived from European cooking oil.

Darren Kehoe, Project Manager at Tideway’s Greenwich site, said: “We’re proud that Tideway is an environmental project not just in what we’re doing – cleaning up the Thames – but in how we’re doing it, and these results are the latest vindication of that philosophy.

“Reducing emissions by being mindful of the fuels we use to build vital infrastructure is a key part of our industry driving toward a better future.”

These findings follow independent analysis from a 2019 study showing that Tideway’s use of the river (instead of the road) to move construction materials offered a profound reduction in many emissions – including a 90% reduction in CO2 and an 86% reduction in nitric oxide – even before the switch to HVO fuel was made.

Tideway committed to use the river to move spoil and construction material whenever possible to minimise the impact of its work on congestion, on vulnerable road users and air quality.

And to date, the project has move 4m tonnes of excavated spoil (more than 95% of the total) and 1.5m tonnes of construction material using the river – keeping around 650,000 HGVs off London’s road network and avoiding around 23,400t of CO2 emissions.


To see the full report, The use of HVO as a fuel in river and road vehicles, please contact [email protected]