Citram Aquitaine, a transport operator committed to sustainable methods of energy transition is now testing the bioethanol-driven Scania’s Interlink LD Euro 6 bus between Bordeaux and Blaye.
The vineyards of Bordeaux are doubtless best known for the fine wines they produce. But they are getting things right in more ways than one. With grape marc, the residue produced in the wine-making process, being used to make biofuel, transport operator Citram Aquitaine is running Scania’s Interlink LD Euro 6 bus on its intercity 201 route between Bordeaux and Blaye: a vehicle adapted to long-distance travel which is powered by bioethanol produced by Raisinor France Alcools.
“We have to be at the forefront of innovation,” says Nicolas Raud, director of Citram Aquitaine. “I believe that the ability of a carrier to reconsider its energy mix is essential.”
The environmentally sound bus is hard to miss, with the proud message “I run on bioethanol produced from grape marc” emblazoned on its side.
“We were immediately drawn to Raisinor and Scania’s proposal of locally produced, environmentally friendly power, so we asked to be involved in the experiment to measure the efficiency and viability of this solution,” says Raud.
Collaboration enables the use of local bioethanol
The collaboration between Scania and Citram is enabled by the key contribution of Raisinor France Alcools, which supplies the biofuel required to run the experiment. In a bold and ambitious move, Raisinoor has brought together the French wine cooperatives, with Union Coopératives Vinicoles d’Aquitaine (UCVA) producing 100,000 tonnes of grape marc every year on its site at Coutras in the Gironde department, which is in the Bordeaux wine-making region.
“Their production potential would supply 1,000 vehicles locally,” says Jérôme Budua, Director of Raisinor France Alcools.
Established in 1921 as a private company, Citram has been the main passenger transport company in the Gironde department for years.
“By using the waste products from our local wine industry to manufacture the fuel that is used in some of our vehicles locally, we are joining the green intelligence movement,” says Raud.
Commitment to alternative energy at a cost
A vehicle running on bioethanol consumes more because the energy output of ethanol is half that of diesel, and it is more expensive to buy compared with a diesel vehicle: “To cause less pollution, we must accept the bill,” says Raud. “Reappraising our fleet of vehicles by investing in alternative energy can only be done with the support of the region, and we know that the region views this approach favourably. It is up to us to suggest an economically acceptable energy mix.
“Bioethanol and gas allow us to develop an energy mix that is suitable for our area. In our network, some remote places do not have and probably will never have a petrol station with gas. They could easily accommodate this locally produced, ecologically relevant energy.”
The “green” benefits of the bioethanol-fuelled bus are undeniable. “The bioethanol/diesel comparison is irrefutable, with 85 percent fewer carbon emissions, 50 percent less nitrogen oxides and 70 per cent fewer particulates,” says Budua.
And so while bioethanol is more demanding than diesel, requiring shorter oil change intervals and maintenance/service periods, Scania offers a wealth of experience with this fuel, having operated biofuel buses in Sweden since the 1990s.
Scania and Raisinor´s ethanol collaboration
- During the 1990s, Raisinor signed its initial contact with Scania, supplying bioethanol for buses in Sweden.
- Their partnership was solidified in 2009 with the arrival of the European directive encouraging the use of ethanol in fuel (E85 or SP95-E10).