Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Hino Motors Ltd. (Hino) and Showa Shell Sekiyu K. K. (SSSKK) plan to begin trials on 1 July of a diesel-electric hybrid transit bus fueled by a mixture of Fischer-Tropsch diesel (FTD)—specifically, Shell’s gas-to-liquids (GTL) fuel—and hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO), a type of renewable diesel offering similar characteristics to FTD.

The trials, which are funded by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) under the National Traffic Safety and Environment Laboratory (NTSEL)’s Next-Generation Environmentally Friendly Vehicles Development and Commercialization Project, aim to verify that a FTD-HVO mixture can be used extendedly with unmodified vehicle components, such as fuel hoses and fuel injectors.

The trials will use a Hino Blue Ribbon City Hybrid, already in service as a Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Transportation transit bus, on various Tokyo routes until the end of December 2010.

FTD is a family of cleaner-burning synthetic liquid fuels made through Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis that have combustion characteristics ideal for diesel engines and are virtually free from sulfur and aromatics. FTD can significantly contribute to cleaner exhaust, with previous results under the NTSEL project demonstrating 50% less particulate matter, 20% less HC and 20% less CO in exhaust gas emissions compared to conventional diesel.

FTD is also expected to provide a cost-effective alternative to diesel, as it can be supplied through the existing fuel infrastructure, and is considered promising from the viewpoint of energy security, because it can be made from various sources, including biomass.

TMC, Hino, and SSSKK—together with NTSEL—have focused on the usability of FTD since October 2005 and have been working to develop vehicles that run exclusively on the fuel and achieve a significant reduction in pollution. (Earlier post.) The companies have also been conducing road trials, such as the limited-term fleet trial held in December 2007 using FTD-powered carrier vehicles in and around Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture and between TMC’s headquarters in Toyota City and TMC’s Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Shizuoka Prefecture.

The FTD used in this trial is Shell GTL Fuel produced at a plant of Shell MDS (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd in Bintulu, Malaysia.