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Scania Touts Ethanol for Heavy-Duty Urban Transport; Introduces Hybrid Concept

Scania ethanol bus in Stockholm.

Speaking at an ethanol conference in London, Urban Johansson, Senior Vice President Powertrain Development for Scania, asserted that “Ethanol is an excellent renewable fuel for heavy commercial vehicles in urban operation, producing remarkable environmental benefits.”

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 95% ethanol with 5% ignition improver in a modified diesel engine.

Modified diesel engine.

To use the E95 blend in the diesel engine, Scania raised the compression ratio from 18:1 to 28:1, added larger fuel injection nozzles, and altered the injection timing.

Different gaskets and filters are required, as well as larger fuel tanks—the engines burn 65% to 70% more ethanol than diesel.

The intervals between oil changes is halved, and more scheduled maintenance is required.

Scania has fifteen years of operational data with its ethanol buses, developed in cooperation with Stockholm Public Transport. The company has delivered about 600 ethanol buses so far, with substantive emissions results.

Scania calculates that since 1990, use of the ethanol buses in Stockholm has:

  • Reduced CO2 by 120,000 tonnes

  • Reduced NOx by 900 tonnes

  • Reduced PM by 25 tonnes

Scania is now developing its third generation ethanol engine, planned to be introduced in 2007. Ethanol buses are now on operating trials in several cities outside Sweden: Madrid, Spain; La Spezia, Italy; and Slupsk, Poland.

Scania acknowledges the ability of diesel engines to burn biodiesel—specifically rapeseed methyl ester (RME)— without any modifications at all, but believes that the farming capacity is insufficient for the huge need foreseen for the transport industry. Scania sanctions its modern diesel engines running on any blend of biodiesel up to 100%.

The Scania hybrid. Scania is developing a prototype hybrid designed to work with engines burning diesel, ethanol, RME or natural gas. A motor generator provides traction assistance and supports regenerative braking. Ultracapacitors store the energy.

Scania estimates potential fuel savings of 25% or more, with correspondingly lower emissions as estimates that the technology could be market-ready in five years’ time.



Rafael Seidl

Ethanol may make sense for city bus fleets, which can operate a private fuel depot. Emissions are greatly improved over a Euro 3 diesel, though I'd be surprised if a new Euro 4 engine with DPF and SCR wouldn't be good enough as well - and a lot cheaper to operate. Great to hear Scania is also developing an ultracapacitor hybrid drivetrain to add to their list of differentiators (e.g. turbocompounding).

The compression ratio of 28 in this engine is surprisingly high. Also, virtually neat ethanol will of course evaporate at a specific temperature rather than over a range like gasoline does. However, this company has had a lot of experience with this fuel. I guess now we know the real reason why alcohol is so expensive in Sweden :^)


I'm puzzled by the 'farming capacity is insufficient' remark for biodiesel. I don't how much ethanol can be produced per hectare or acre in northerly latitudes but I would have thought fuel value per area would be roughly comparable under current technology.

chetan morey

ethanol buses


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