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Low-cost synthetic fuel road tested in London

Toyota and Shell are trialling a new alternative fuel in a fleet of 10 Avensis cars equipped with D-CAT emissions reduction technology.

Shell Gas to Liquids (GTL) fuel is a synthetic fuel, derived from gas and is claimed to be the most cost- effective of alternative fuels as well as producing lower emissions and less noise. It can also be mixed with regular diesel fuel.

Both companies are hoping trials will demonstrate that low-emission GTL can be used in modern diesel engines, without any conversion or investment. During the test, the GTL fuelled cars will be driven by the British Red Cross, Shelter and the Energy Saving Trust in the London area. However, it is doubtful that GTL will be available widely for at least another 15 years, although Shell V-Power, containing a blend of GTL was launched in Germany in May.

“Producers are likely to export the fuel to those countries where they can get the best returns,” says a Shell spokesman. “If the total gas oil output from the assumed 10 large scale GTL plants was exported to Europe it would meet around 10% of automotive diesel demand in 2020.”

GTL should cost the same as conventional diesel. Shell Pura diesel, a premium grade blend of Shell GTL in conventional diesel, is currently sold throughout the Shell retail network in Thailand.

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