Fossil-free driving with biofuels | © Alexis Kamitsos on unsplash

Fossil-free driving with biofuels

At Deutsche Bahn, we will be climate neutral by 2040. So we're making climate protection a priority. And yet, there are places where we cannot use electricity to bring goods and people to their destinations. We are therefore developing green solutions that help with aspects such as refueling our diesel fleet on rail and road. 

Biofuel on rail

There are still too few technical solutions to allow diesel engines to be dispensed with completely, particularly in rail freight transport, where large loads are transported. That's why we're choosing to provide our diesel fleet with alternative fuels, and so reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. 

Our focus is on biofuels, such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). This is produced from biological residual and waste materials. As such these do not require dedicated agricultural land, and thus do not compete with food and feed production. It is also important to us that the biofuel we use is free of palm oil. In terms of the carbon footprint, greenhouse gases are reduced by around 85% to 90% compared to conventional diesel depending on raw material composition. Their combustion in the engine releases only the CO2 that was previously extracted from the atmosphere by the plants as they grew. The rest of the greenhouse gas emissions incurred are generated when the biofuel is manufactured and transported, so in the upstream chain.

At DB Cargo, we are already testing the use of 100% HVO fuel in several shunting and main-line locomotives in freight transport. The results so far have been highly positive. The engines function flawlessly and the performance is as expected. In addition, the advanced TrainLab, our test train for research into future rail solutions, has been running on biofuel since mid-2019. The required fuel is supplied by the tank infrastructure of our energy service provider DB Energie. Here the trains can fill up green. 

Fossil-free on the road

Biofuel is a climate-friendly alternative to diesel for road vehicles, too. DB Schenker, for example, uses the biofuel for its European fleet. The first trucks that refuel with 100% HVO are already on the road for DB Schenker in Sweden with a This is green. label.