10 Sep 2020

High Octane Petrol Study

Report no. 17/20: The long-term goal of the EU is the ambition of climate neutrality by 2050 (EU Energy Roadmap 2050). As an introduction to reach this target, vehicle efficiency targets for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles have been defined in Regulation (EU) 2019/631 in the EU up to 2030. The expected benefit, from the CO2 emission performance standards for cars and vans, is a 23% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from road transport (total fleet) in 2030 compared to 20051. In the current Regulation, vehicle efficiency targets are formulated in a technology-neutral manner, but from a Tank-To-Wheel (TTW) perspective only. Manufacturers have the possibility to use the CO2 reduction potential of internal combustion engines and electrification to be compliant. In this perspective, Concawe2 investigated the CO2 reduction potential of High Octane Petrol when used in an optimized engine with a high compression ratio.

This report investigates the feasibility of such High Octane Petrol production and its cost for EU refining. This study was performed with the Linear Programming model developed by Concawe. It is used to simulate the performance, capabilities and behaviour of the European refineries. The model aggregates all the capacities from each individual refinery in European countries (EU27 + UK, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland).

As a first step, a series of cases have been developed with 10% of the demand switched to the High Octane Petrol grade. For the reference case of the HOP 102 RON, this evolution can easily be absorbed by the flexibility of refineries. In a second step, a 2030 scenario is developed in which 50% of the gasoline demand switches to HOP 102 RON. A significant evolution is required in the refineries: the use of oxygenated components is increased significantly, which requires important imports of Oxygenates or investment in new Oxygenates plants, and the oxygen specification to be relaxed from 2.7 w.t% to 3.7 wt% in most of the regions. Exchanges between regions are also needed. No simulation with demand post-2030 or with HOP percentage higher than 50% have been performed.

We consider these scenarios as this long term ones, which will be very dependent on the evolution on the powertrain, the Demand for gasoline and the consequent evolution of the refinery system. The analysis of constraints of the 50% case shows that the European refining system is not able to produce much more than 50% HOP 102 RON without significant investments. In the central case, 50% demand of RON 102, the CO2 savings is more than 4Mt/y (5% vehicle efficiency gain from R95 to R102) per year and the cost of additional octane is assessed at 4.7$/t/point of RON. Even though it is significant, this octane value remains consistent with the market valorisation around 8.6 $/t/pt. RON (US market, historical figure).

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