Putting gas-to-liquid fuel to the test

Hitachi Zaxis excavators are being used to trial Shell's gas-to-liquids fuel

HITACHI Construction Machinery (Europe) and Shell have joined forces to test the suitability of Shell GTL (gas-to-liquids) fuel in construction operations. The latest range of Hitachi Zaxis-5 excavators is being used to trial the innovative liquid fuel as a solution to environmental and quality concerns surrounding conventional crude oil-derived diesel.

Shell GTL Fuel is produced from natural gas in a chemical transformation process. It is colourless, almost odourless, highly biodegradable and can help to reduce local emissions and engine noise (in certain types of engines and under certain driving conditions). It has a high cetane number (75/80 versus 48/56 for refined diesel), burns more cleanly, and produces fewer nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and particulate matter than regular diesel.
With over 35 years of research in this field, Shell claims to be at the forefront of GTL technology and production. HCME switched over to Shell GTL Fuel for the first fill of the machines at its Amsterdam factory in May 2013 with the aim of achieving a consistently high level of fuel quality.
“Shell GTL Fuel is compatible with existing diesel technology and supply infrastructure,” says Igor de Liefde, who is responsible for product regulations in HCME’s Engineering Department. “This means that we can use it in existing fleets – for both new and older heavy-duty diesel engines – without the need for any modifications, cleaning of fuel systems or additional investment. This makes it a cost-effective, easy-to-use and easy-to-implement solution, which importantly doesn’t add complexity to a customer’s business.”
HCME has been using a ZX210LC-5 medium excavator for a Shell GTL Fuel storage stability test.
The purpose was to run the engine for the minimum amount of time, so that the fuel was stored for as long as possible in the tank under the most demanding conditions. These equate to long-term storage under various ambient conditions, from winter through to summer, with the occasional warming up of the engine for a short period of time.