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Sustainable opportunities for heating oil

There has been an important revision to the British Standard (BS2869:2010) that further limits the sulphur content of heating oil and allows for Class D middle distillate fuel (gas oil) to have up to a 7 per cent FAME (biofuel) blends.

Low sulphur heating oil, when applied to high efficiency condensing oil or dual fuel boilers, has clear environmental benefits over the many standard efficiency appliances in use.

The inclusion of FAME from renewable and sustainable sources has additional benefits of achieving significant carbon reduction within existing installations and reducing the dependency on fossil fuels.

It is important, however, that installers and contractors realise there are some very important considerations regarding the use of biofuel blends that must be considered.

For example, burners manufactured prior to the introduction of biofuels may require the fitting of a biofuel kit, ensuring a suitable biofuel-compatible hydraulic circuit and oil lines are used.

Taking this a step further, the entire oil installation must be correctly prepared and capable of operating with such fuels.

Many existing and previously installed burners and hydraulic components have not been designed to use fuels in accordance to the revised standard BS2869:2010 and warranties may be affected if unsuitable components are affected by the new fuel or fuel additives, possibly resulting in potential equipment failure and fuel leakage.

End-users need to be reminded to check whether fuel contains FAME and take appropriate steps to ensure storage arrangements and appliance system are suitable for use with biofuel blends prior to their use.

OFTEC, ICOM, the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS) and the Department for Transport acknowledge the potential impact and problems that can occur with the introduction of this new specification fuel.

These organisations, as well as the equipment manufacturers, have issued guidance notes to assist consultants, specifiers, installers and end-users on what should be done.

We all need to accept that the introduction of biofuels requires a holistic approach on the way they affect all oil heating installations, ensuring that all materials and seals in the oil storage, supply line and burner are compatible.

If an existing oil storage tank is used, for example, it will be essential that the tank is first inspected for condition and checked for water or other contamination. It should be cleaned and oil filters replaced prior to biofuel delivery.

Collaboration between oil distributors and installers is recommended regarding the appropriate use of additional additives within the fuel to prevent microbial growth from occurring within the tank.

If everyone in the oil heating sector pulls together, we can realise the many potential benefits that the introduction of FAME offers.

These could continue to increase in future as the percentage of biofuel increases and assist in the reduction of carbon emissions.

Barry Gregory is managing director at Riello Burners