Engineering News

Scania at Fuel Conference in London:
Ethanol the Best Alternative Fuel for Urban Transport

Wednesday March 22, 9:13 am ET

STOCKHOLM, Sweden--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 22, 2006--"During fifteen years using Scania ethanol buses, Stockholm Public Transport has achieved impressive environmental gains," said Scania's (STO:SCVA)(STO:SCVB) Urban Johansson in conjunction with a high-level BioEthanol conference in London today.

Urban Johansson, Senior Vice President Powertrain Development, spoke at the conference "BioEthanol and the road to sustainable transport" organised by BAFF, the BioAlcohol Fuel Foundation, at the Imperial College in London.

"Ethanol is an excellent renewable fuel for heavy commercial vehicles in urban operation, producing remarkable environmental benefits.

"The growing interest in ethanol is leading to a rapid build-up of production and supply infrastructures across the globe. This will pave the way for new environmentally oriented urban transport systems.

"By sustainable public transport we mean sustainable in an environmental and economical perspective. Using fuels that are compatible with current engine technology, we can secure that the technology is sustainable as well.

"We at Scania are proud of this achievement and of being able to contribute to the big reduction of fossil carbon dioxide emissions in Stockholm," concluded Mr Johansson.

Robust technology

Scania's position is that by sticking to established technologies, the transition to alternative fuels will be smooth and cost-effective. In Scania terms, this means using pure ethanol with 5% ignition improver in a diesel engine that works efficiently according to the diesel principle. (Petrol engines, working according to the Otto principle, can be adapted to run on a mix of up to 85% ethanol in petrol.)

Ethanol buses

Scania started to develop ethanol buses in the mid-1980s in close co-operation with Stockholm Public Transport (SL). After more than 15 years of regular full-scale operation in tough city conditions, SL considers it a fully proven bus technology.

There are no operational drawbacks as long as the scheduled maintenance requirements are followed. The buses themselves are completely standard, using regular Scania components. Ethanol buses are now on operating trials in several cities outside Sweden, for example Madrid in Spain, La Spezia in Italy and Supsk in Poland. Several other cities have expressed interest.

Around 600 ethanol buses have been delivered so far. Scania is now developing its third generation ethanol engine, planned to be introduced in 2007.

Other alternative fuels

RME, rapeseed methyl ester, can be used in a diesel engine without any modifications at all. The main obstacle seems to be that the farming capacity is insufficient for the huge need foreseen for the transport industry.

Scania permits its modern diesel engines to run either on 100% RME or on a mix of up to 5% RME in standard diesel fuel.

Synthetic diesel is a strong alternative, particularly when produced from a renewable source like biowaste. It can be mixed in increasing proportions into standard diesel and the potential volumes are high. Overall, synthetic diesel is a very good fuel.

Scania's gas buses run on CNG as well as biogas. Although the tanks are heavy, operation is smooth and silent, adding to the environmental benefits. Scania has supplied around 1,000 gas vehicles since the early 1990s.

Scania hybrid technology

Scania is also working on a very promising robust hybrid-drive concept based exclusively on robust technology.

Using a normal bus engine means that the concept is very flexible when it comes to fuel. It can be adapted to run on diesel, ethanol, RME or gas. This engine is coupled to a robust generator that supplies electricity to an electrical motor that doubles as a generator when braking. Energy is stored in industrial ultracapacitors with higher power density and higher efficiency than existing batteries.

The potential fuel saving with Scania's hybrid concept is 25% or more, with correspondingly lower emissions. Scania is building the first prototype right now. The technology could be ripe for the market in five years' time.

BEST and BAFF

One of the driving forces in Europe right now is the BEST consortium (BioEthanol for Sustainable Transport), a project initiated by public transport representatives from Stockholm and now partly funded by the European Union. The objective is to prepare for large-scale acceptance of ethanol as a good alternative fuel both for passenger cars and for heavy vehicles. As a first step, a number of ethanol filling stations are being set up across Europe. Research will be initiated to develop common standards both for the quality and for the use of the fuel.

BAFF, the BioAlcohol Fuel Foundation, in 1999 emerged from the Swedish Ethanol Development Foundation established in 1983 with the aim of developing bio-based ethanol technologies, as well as production. Ethanol is considered the most rational alternative fuel, meeting desirable environmental standards and requirements. BAFF is active on a global level, promoting ethanol use as motor fuel on a global level.

Ethanol can be produced from sugar cane and sugar beets, as well as various forms of biowaste. The technology is developing continually. Recent findings include producing ethanol from biowaste and burning the residual products in municipal heating or electricity plants.

Source: Scania

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