Fuel Choices: A Range of Environmental Options for Road Freight Movement
11 March 2024

Fuel Choices: A Range of Environmental Options for Road Freight Movement

The road transport sector stands at a crucial juncture, compelled to address the urgent need for reducing its carbon footprint. Various alternatives are emerging as potential solutions, each presenting specific advantages and challenges. It is essential to delve into these alternatives to shape the future of road mobility in a sustainable manner.

Below, you will find a diverse set of solutions aimed at making transportation more environmentally friendly:

Biofuels: XTL and B100

Biofuels, derived from organic materials like plants, offer a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Their key advantage lies in their capacity to decrease carbon emissions, thereby helping mitigate the transportation sector’s impact on climate change. However, challenges arise due to competition with food production and the need for extensive land areas for biomass cultivation.

Synthetic fuels (XTL, HVO), second-generation biofuels obtained from animal fats, used oils, or forest residues, avoid competing with food products.

However, current quantities available are limited and are likely to remain so in the coming decades due to the restricted availability of usable raw materials. The use of biofuels is now viewed as a transitional phase towards other energy sources.


XTL is a biofuel based on the recovery of used oils. This fuel is produced from plant waste, avoiding direct competition with crops used for food production.

XTL, a second-generation biofuel, is non-toxic, biodegradable, and stable over time. Numerous advantages compared to conventional fuel include:

  • Biodegradable fuel
  • No fuel overconsumption
  • No impact on engine wear and performance

In figures, XTL represents:

  • An 88% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to diesel
  • Emission factor = 0.54 kgCO2e/Liter vs. 3.10 kgCO2e/litre for diesel
  • 30% fewer fine and ultrafine particle emissions

Various tests are currently underway to assess the use of these alternative fuels, ensuring they are traceable and certified as sustainable.


B100 is a biofuel produced from renewable raw materials, such as vegetable oils, used cooking oils, or other lipid sources. It is used as a substitute or additive to traditional petroleum-derived diesel.

The use of B100 may require modifications or adaptations to existing diesel engines due to slight differences in biodiesel properties compared to conventional diesel.

The possibility of using B100 depends on vehicle pollution standards:

  • Euro I to V: immediately and without engine changes
  • Euro VI: through a slight engine modification called retrofit for available vehicles, or immediately approved B100 for new vehicles
  • Classified as Crit’Air 1

In figures, B100 represents:

  • A 60% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to diesel
  • 22 kg CO2e/litre vs. 3.10 kg CO2e/litre for diesel emission factor
  • 80% fewer fine and ultrafine particle emissions

Advantages compared to conventional fuel are numerous:

  • Biodegradable
  • Not ATEX and not classified ICPE
  • Less flammable than petroleum diesel
  • Safer to handle and transport


Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) serves as an alternative to oil, primarily composed of methane. This gas can be produced in methanization stations, with BioCNG derived from renewable sources, mainly organic materials, gaining popularity in the transportation sector.

Here are some key points about BioCNG:

  • A renewable source produced from organic materials
  • Compatible with all CNG vehicles (originally fossil Natural Gas Vehicles) and utilizes the same refuelling infrastructure
  • 0.61 kg CO2e/kg vs. 3.10 kg CO2e/litre for diesel emission factor
  • Minimal emissions of toxic particles and toxic or carcinogenic gases
  • Noise reduction while driving
  • Classified as Crit’Air 1

As of December 31, 2022, more than 650 stations distribute BioCNG/CNG in France.

301 refueling points are open to the public, including 224 delivering Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), 169 delivering BioCNG, and 77 delivering Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

In addition to alternatives to fossil fuels, new engine technologies are also being developed:


Electric trucks are emerging as a crucial solution for decarbonizing urban and regional logistics, aligning with climate goals, particularly the binding European rules aiming for a 30% reduction in carbon emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles by 2030. Additionally, the benefits related to reducing air and noise pollution in urban areas reinforce the relevance of electric trucks.

Despite this progress, the operational deployment of electric trucks falls short of expectations. Current constraints, such as limited autonomy, reduced payload, and long recharge times, hinder the deployment of electric trucks. However, initiating the transition now is crucial to meet climate goals and avoid excessive demand in 2030.

Financial obstacles, while less prioritized than operational problems, can be overcome through financial assistance, eliminating the total ownership cost surcharge. Tax incentives, such as accelerated depreciation until 2030, and ecological bonuses contribute to making electric trucks economically competitive compared to equivalent diesel models.


In the race for the decarbonization of road transport, hydrogen is emerging as a distant option, garnering increasing interest despite persistent obstacles. Recently, a hydrogen-powered truck prototype set a range record by covering 1047 kilometres on a single charge, highlighting the potential of this decarbonized technology.

However, major obstacles remain, including the lack of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, high costs, and growing competition in the sector.

Towards Sustainable Mobility

Despite these challenges, industry stakeholders recognise the complementarity of battery-powered and hydrogen-powered trucks, along with alternatives to fossil fuels. While batteries are favoured for light loads over short distances, hydrogen could play a key role for long-distance journeys, offering faster recharge times. Currently, alternative fuels are seen as transitional energies toward more sustainable mobility.

As a forward-thinking leader in road freight movement, Ziegler is embracing a diverse range of environmentally friendly fuel options. Recognising the urgent need to address carbon emissions and promote sustainability in the transportation sector, we have made a conscientious commitment to reduce our carbon footprint. By exploring and adopting alternative fuels, we are actively contributing to a greener future for road freight. This proactive stance not only aligns with global efforts to combat climate change but also sets a positive example for the industry.

For any information request, please contact us: sales.enquiries@zieglergroup.com