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Scania: Bio- and Synthetic Fuels and Hybrids Key to Sustainable Public Transport

Scania, a leading manufacturer of heavy trucks and buses as well as industrial and marine engines, sees the combination of a gradual shift to bio- and synthetic fuels and increased use of robust hybrid systems as foundations for sustainable and affordable public transit systems.

Hasse Johansson, Group Vice President for R&D at Scania, outlined the company’s view of sustainable transport during the opening session of the biennial UITP congress (Union International Des Transports Public) in Rome.

We think powertrain technology is an area where the revolution [progress in diesel combustion technology lowering emissions and fuel consumption] will continue but the revolution will not be in the technology used but in the results.

[...] In 2012...the focus will be on carbon dioxide, the most efficient use of the fuel available and on noise.

[...] Oil production will peak around 2008, according to some researchers. This will lead to a continued increase in fuel prices, thus gradually making alternative fuels a much more attractive proposition....The greatest potential in terms of fuel is the introduction of synthetic diesel manufactured from natural gas or from biowaste.

[...] Another area with great potential is hybrid drive technology. Hybrid drive can also save a lot of fuel. Calculating conservatively we expect a fuel saving of up to 25 percent with our robust hybrid drive system. We expect this new hybrid technology to make a breakthrough in city buses in about 5 years.

One principle underlying Scania’s approach is reducing niche development—largely the reason they are not pursuing ethanol, for example.

The use of ethanol has clear environmental benefits, but unless volumes can be radically increased – and stable legislative conditions guaranteed – dedicated engine development for a special fuel simply cannot be justified.

That leads to the focus on continued enhancement of diesel combustion technology and management combined with blended and synthetic fuels. In other words, using ethanol in a blend level that does not require specialized engine development (fittings, seals, combustion management systems for example) is a short-term path. But for the longer term, as noted above, Scania’s sights are on synthetic diesel fuels, from either renewable or fossil resources.

In the area of hybrid drives, Scania likes the promise of ultracapacitors as the energy storage.



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