Fuelling London 2012
Ultimate performers: Fuelling London 2012
A focused attitude, disciplined training and the right ‘fuel’ are as vital to the performance of a world-class athlete as natural ability. Together, these are the foundations for a great performance, and perhaps a world record or two. There is always something further to strive for; after all, 100 years ago, running the men’s 100-metre race in under 11 seconds was the order of the day…
In similar fashion, BP has spent several decades developing a portfolio of advanced fuels. Today, thanks to its investment and strategy the company is at the forefront of the forecourt with its advanced fuels and engine oils. No surprise then that BP is the Official Oil and Gas Partner of London 2012, a role in which it will deliver some of its innovative fuels to a fleet of cars, buses and motorcycles.
Over the course of London 2012, official Games vehicles will be directed to a number of priority BP sites within the Greater London area, although they will be able to fill up at any BP site. In addition, the fleet will be able to stay sparkling with a top-level car wash, available at certain BP sites.
As well as the latest generation of BP Ultimate fuels, BP will also trial a number of Games vehicles on advanced biofuels, which will be blended with fossil fuels – cellulosic ethanol, diesel made from sugars, and biobutanol. These cutting-edge biofuels will not be widely available on the forecourt for several years, but represent some of BP’s best science and technology capability.
“We have been making smarter consumer fuels for decades,” says Jackie Fionda, vice president of marketing for BP’s global supply and marketing fuels value chain (FVC), “In response to more stringent emissions targets, car manufacturers are making their gasoline and diesel engines more efficient and smaller in size, while maintaining performance. This means engines are working harder than ever and are under more stress. This requires a different quality of fuel.”
The science behind BP’s consumer fuels business is led by its global fuels technology product development division, which is working to hone the molecules that help motorists get the most out of their engine. Working with BMW, the Official Automotive Partner for the Games, BP is collaborating with one of the world’s leading car manufacturers to ensure an integrated approach to meet LOCOG’s objective “to minimise the carbon footprint of the Games and provide a platform for demonstrating long-term solutions for efficient transport and carbon impact mitigation.”
BMW’s role at London 2012 is to provide a diverse fleet of official vehicles, operating below the required carbon dioxide emissions target of 120g per kilometre, thus meeting the operational and lower-carbon requirements of the Games organisers. BP’s role is to work with BMW to ensure supply of reliable and complementary fuels and lubricants for BMW’s engines, requiring strong cooperation and innovation in supply, carbon mitigation and product development.
“Our innovation process looks at how engine technology changes and at what consumers want,” says Fionda. “We then work with manufacturers at the forefront of engine technology and our fuels technologists to find smart molecules and smart blends that work very well with the new technology.”
BP’s research and development capabilities, together with the visibility of its existing retail network, make it the perfect partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. BP’s forecourt fuels are already a trusted brand. BP has a leading retail fuels and convenience presence in the UK and, over the years, the company’s supply and marketing division has established a 1,200-strong network of service stations. A high number of those stations are perfectly located to serve the Games fleet, ferrying athletes, officials and dignitaries between airports, hotels and, of course, the Olympic Park.
BP’s role involves not only fuelling the 5,000-plus vehicle fleet of cars, buses and motorcycles but also the fuel for the generators that will keep the Olympic venues fully powered throughout the Olympics and Paralympics, and liquefied petroleum gas for catering.
Meeting fuel needs such as these is what BP does every day from the UK FVC headquarters in Milton Keynes, and a large team has been working full-time for the past 18 months on the Games fuelling commitment. The reliability, efficiency and finesse of this operation will be crucial throughout the Games, and it is something BP is honoured to be doing.
“The commitment we have with LOCOG is that we will fuel all of the vehicles throughout the Games,” says Neale Smither, UK supply and marketing FVC manager. “We recognise there is a huge responsibility to get this right. There is no gold medal for delivering fuel to the Games; we are doing this because we have the capability and the experience, and because we are expected to do it perfectly, safely and efficiently.
“We are one of the few organisations that can do this, because of the quality of the network that we have and the quality of our products. I believe that the Games will allow us a fantastic opportunity to do what we do best, every day of the year, and to enhance our position as a leading fuels retailer in the UK.”
In addition to supplying all the transport fuel for the Games fleet, BP will also provide Castrol lubricants for the official cars. Lubricants are specially developed and selected to assist with enhancing engine performance and, therefore, fuel efficiency and carbon mitigation.
BP’s retail network is already easily recognisable for motorists, whether a vehicle is carrying the likes of Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt or not. During the Games period, customers and London 2012 visitors alike will be greeted at around 90% of the BP network with vibrant Olympic and Paralympic-themed imagery, including some unique and specially-commissioned sculptures adorning the canopies of around 50 of those sites. Special London 2012 merchandise and external and internal competitions and promotions have already helped to fuel enthusiasm.
During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, BP will also be trialling advanced biofuel blends for some of the official London 2012 fleet. These include ‘cellulosic’ fuels manufactured from specially-grown energy grasses. Because these energy grasses can be grown in great bulk and absorb large volumes of carbon, cellulosic fuels have significant potential as a lower-carbon fuel when produced commercially at scale, as BP plans to do. The energy grasses can be grown in many regions, although the cellulosic ethanol that has been created for the official London 2012 fleet has been produced at BP’s demonstration plant in Jennings, Louisiana, US. The demonstration plant is part of BP’s long-term lower-carbon strategy to invest in the right feedstocks and technology ‘to do biofuels well’. BP is also developing a commercial facility in Florida, where the first 2,000 of a future 20,000 acres of energy grasses are being grown.
“Our biofuels business is about accessing the most efficient feedstocks available and turning them into useful, value-adding molecules,” says Philip New, BP’s vice president, biofuels. “For biofuels to make the contribution that we believe they have the potential to make, they have to meet four fundamental criteria.
“They have to be sustainable and scalable, offer real carbon savings and, in time, demonstrate competitiveness with crude oil without subsidies.
“We are unique in being the only company in the world that is building endto- end advanced biofuels capability, including agricultural operations in Brazil and Florida, large-scale manufacturing in Brazil and the UK, biotechnology research in San Diego, US, and demonstration plants for cellulosic ethanol in Florida, US, and biobutanol in Hull, UK.”
Biobutanol is a premium biofuel that has a high energy content. This means consumers face less compromise on fuel economy and can drive more miles per gallon, compared to a conventional gasoline biofuel blend. The biobutanol trialled for part of the official London 2012 fleet will come from ButamaxTM – a jointventure between BP and DuPont. The biobutanol was produced at a demonstration plant located in Hull, UK.
BP will also be supplying a diesel made from sugar. The raw product is made in collaboration with DSM by converting sugar into lipids and turning those into a diesel fuel molecule.
Jean-Charles Dumenil is BP’s venture manager for advanced fuels, charged with getting the fuel to the Games’ pumps. “When we accepted this challenge, we had never tried to produce something at this scale,” he says. “We needed to make products against a tight schedule, on specification, in the required quantities.”
“These technologies have never been showcased together by the same company,” says Philip New. “Fuelling the Games fleet is an excellent opportunity for BP to demonstrate to the world that these technologies are a reality.”
The athletes, swimmers and cyclists that will compete at London 2012 will be at their peak in terms of preparation and performance, and many will demonstrate, in front of the world, that they are the best of their kind. Just like the fuels that will go into the cars, buses and motorcycles that will get them to their venues on time, there is always something more to push for.