Hydrogenated vegetable oil — the new clean energy alternative

HVO has similar physical characteristics as diesel, allowing it to be used directly with little or no modification 


WITH the current trend of rapid climate change experienced worldwide, contingency plans such as shifting to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources are critical in ensuring the sustainability of Mother Nature. 

Looking at all the possible solutions, it has been found that hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) is one of the most notable green energy alternatives that has attracted substantial attention globally due to its potential to reduce CO2 emissions. 

HVO is a renewable diesel produced from vegetable fats and oils through the hydrogenation process. Due to several advantages over fossil diesel and regular biodiesel, HVO is attaining much popularity globally with increasing investment being channelled towards this emerging technology. 

Global Demand for Clean Hydrogen Rises in Prominent Projects 

Through hydrogen treatment, processed animal fats (including wastes and residues) and vegetable oils exhibits fuel qualities similar to fossil-based fuels and they can be easily modified to meet the needs of end-users. 

Furthermore, due to its hydrocarbon structure, HVO has similar physical characteristics as diesel, allowing it to be used directly with little or no modification. 

Due to its versatility, HVO has the potential to complement fossil-based fuels in terms of performance and future sustainability. 

Comparable to other forms of biodiesel, key features of HVO that are worth highlighting include its relatively low freezing point, which makes it suitable to be used as jet fuel for countries with cold climates, its longer shelf life (up to 10 years), and its relatively low effluent emission makes HVO a highly preferred and feasible alternative for diesel substitution. 

Thus, HVO’s excellent performance and significant characteristics hold tremendous potential to flourish due to its various operational and environmental benefits. 

Malaysia’s Way Forward with HVO

In line with Malaysia’s vision of heading towards a sustainable future by reducing its carbon footprints, various forms of incentives are available to promote the commercialisation of HVO as a bio-jet fuel. This is done with the hope of catering to the vast demand within the global market upon commercialisation of HVO within the next four to five years. 

Malaysia will need to move forward swiftly to embrace this opportunity and enhance its position as a leader in the biofuel industry. It is important to entice global players and technology holders in this space to embrace Malaysia’s green energy initiative towards becoming a sustainable-driven nation. 

As the government’s principal investment promotion agency, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) recognises the potential development of HVO as well as the challenges pioneer companies face in setting up such projects in Malaysia. 

“As such, investors are welcomed to approach MIDA’s Chemical and Advanced Materials Division to explore the business prospects of this new growth area,” it said recently. 

For more information, visit www.mida.gov.my. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition