BMW: Malaysias B10 Bad for Oil

BMW Malaysia Sdn. asked the Malaysian government to reconsider its plans to implement its B10 biodiesel mandate in October this year. The company said in a statement last week that it is concerned that the increased palm oil content could impair engine lubrication.

The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities will submit a plan by June to implement the B10 plan by October, said Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, the agencys top official.

B10 is diesel that is 10 percent by volume made from renewable resources, such as palm methyl ester plant oils, with the remaining 90 percent derived from petroleum. Malaysia currently requires diesel to be B7, or 7 percent biodiesel.

In response, BMW issued a statement asking the ministry to take into account the feedback and opinion of the Malaysian automotive industry before implementing the use of B10 biodiesel.

In our tests with B10 biodiesel worldwide, we have found technical challenges present when blending 10 percent palm-based methyl ester with the current conventional fuel, said Alan Harris, CEO and managing director of BMW Group Malaysia.

Testing on vehicles found that fatty acid methyl ester, which boils at high temperatures, will move into motor oil due to the regeneration setting, resulting in thinning of the motor oil as it does not evaporate when the engine runs at high temperatures, he continued. This in turn leads to oil sludge and reduced lubricity with the risk of severe engine damage.

Modern diesel engines in Malaysia are well suited to run on the 7 percent biodiesel formulations mandated by the current B7 plan, according to BMW. However, while biodiesel is introduced with the intention of promoting the use of clean and green technology as well as to increase the domestic use of palm products in the country, we must ensure that the technology is safe and proven to also benefit the industrial and the automotive sector, Harris added.

According to a June 9 Bloomberg report, Malaysias Automotive Institute pointed out that other automakers have claimed in the past several years that a 10 percent biodiesel plan is not compatible with the needs of the nations automobile industry as well. The association said it plans to engage the Malaysian Palm Oil board for deeper discussion of the issue.

The Malaysian government implemented the biofuel program to support palm oil prices and consumption. The country introduced its program for B5 in 2011, implemented it throughout the country last year, and then rolled out the B7 biodiesel program in January.

Governments around the world have in recent years required diesel and gasoline transport fuels to contain biodiesel components as a way of reducing dependence on fossil fuels. In Europe and North America, the auto and lubricant industries have recognized the potential problem of engine oil dilution by biofuels and are working to develop engine oil specifications that test for ability to tolerate dilution.

Biodiesel mandates in Malaysia are further motivated by desires to support the nations palm oil producers. According to statistics released by the countrys Palm Oil Board, Malaysias 2015 crude palm oil production through May wasaround 7.3 million tons.