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What will be the fuels of the future for freight transport vehicles?


What will be the fuels of the future for freight transport vehicles?

There is no longer any doubt that hydrocarbons used as an energy source are responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases. They are also a non-renewable resource that may be depleted within a few decades. This is why they will inevitably have to be replaced by more environmentally friendly renewable fuels, while maintaining an affordable price.

The road transport sector is naturally concerned by this desire for change since hydrocarbons are the primary source of fuel for freight vehicles. What fuels will the transport industry rely on in the coming years?

 Well-known fuels brought up to date

In the history of transport, petroleum-based fuels are not the only fuels that have been used to power vehicles. Indeed, many alternatives have already been tested. However, the current circumstances are leading scientists to reconsider their use.

Electricity, a battery problem

Many car manufacturers have developed electric trucks. However, electricity poses several problems. First, the range of electric vehicles used to transport goods is much less than that of diesel-powered heavy goods vehicles. Secondly, electric vehicle batteries are partly made of lithium, a very rare material with a limited quantity, which makes their production very expensive and therefore not feasible on a large scale.


Hydrogen as a fuel has existed since 1799, but its application to vehicles only dates back to the 1980s, when the Japanese car manufacturer Mazda set up its program to develop a hydrogen engine. In 2006, its competitor BMW presented the BMW Hydrogen 7, the first car to run solely on this fuel. While hydrogen is not polluting (its combustion only releases water), its production is quite complex and causes pollution. The use of hydrogen therefore has its limits and may not be applicable to freight vehicles in the near future.

Food oil: a real alternative to traditional fuels?

Surprising as it may seem, food oil has long been considered as a potential fuel.

Vegetable oil, a fuel already in use

When Rudolph Diesel invented his famous engine in 1892, he intended it to run on canola oil. As this oil was too expensive at the time, it was the oil product, which has the same name as its inventor, that ended up taking over. Today, the trend has reversed and canola oil is gradually returning to the good graces of the automotive industry. However, it is still impossible to produce it in sufficient quantities to be able to apply it to the transport sector.

Frying oil, why not?

It was a Frenchman, Julien Pilette, who thought of filtering used frying oil to make fuel. Today, his B30, made up of 30% ester oil and 70% diesel, is perfectly functional and does not require any modification of the vehicle. Truckers, this unusual fuel may well find its way into your engine faster than you think!

Biomass fuels among the most progressive

In the era of composting, biofuels are gaining in popularity and appear to be a viable solution for the future.

Rolling with biomass

The combustion of plant, animal, bacterial or fungal material produces energy that can drive an engine. Nevertheless, American researchers have shown that all the biomass in the world would not be enough to meet the needs of transporters.

Algae, the fuel of tomorrow

Algae are now considered as “the future of humanity”. Used in the manufacture of medicines and food, they can also be transformed into biofuel. Thanks to their ease of production, there is potential for a large-scale cultivation that would be able to supply fuel to the entire planet, all without having to modify the engines! Algae therefore seem promising for creating a new generation of fuel.

Freight vehicles: what will be the fuels of tomorrow?

Electricity, algae, hydrogen and even frying oil… today, no avenue should be ruled out when it comes to finding a hydrocarbon replacement. Who knows what it will be possible to use as fuel for freight vehicles in the future?

At Transport ÉconoNord, we care about the future of the planet. This is why we stay on the lookout for innovations in this sector so that we can offer an ever more efficient and environmentally friendly service. Contact us for any questions