I’ve got gas! A SaabsUnited Test Drive

Sorry but I just couldn´t resist that headline.

Why? Well because of the car I picked up today Courtesy of ANA Trollhättan and Special Vehicles section ANA Specialbilar….

….The Saab 9-3SC BioPower Biogas TriFuel 🙂 … In Black

I didn´t go on a long drive today though… but I will most certainly get to that during the week. One thing that I Can say this early on is that the transition between Gas and Ethanol is seemless and power in Biogas mode is just as powerful as when running on Ethanol. Picture shows the combined on/off button and gauge for Biogas mode

I will get to the specifics later in the week together with loads of pictures, all I can say now is.. Wow! And that if you live in Sweden, please visit your local dealer or look up Superb Salesmen Richard Nilsson or Claes Robertsson at ANA Trollhättan for a quote, Testdrive and order of a whole fleet of these cars.  😉

More to come later in the week. So stay tuned to SaabsUnited.com


A Huge thank you all at ANA Trollhättan for making this possible!

A thank you also goes to Salesman Mathias Lundberg at BIVA Uppsala for looking out for the vehicle after it arrived in Uppsala with vehicle transport from ANA Trollhättan and handing over the keys to an eager SaabsUnited writer.

21 thoughts on “I’ve got gas! A SaabsUnited Test Drive”

  1. THIS is the real news, not the EV. Sadly, it only gets a snippet on SU with a unassuming photo, and not the royal treatment Swade did to the ePower on InsideSaab. I know it’s ANA skunkworks vs. the mighty EIB-financed Saab, but THIS is the future.

    I really wish Saab would start building standard CNG versions of their vehicles, not only dealer-built conversions, and get rid of the awful BRC button in favour of nice dash integration (plus some better idea regarding tank placement, although ANA did a brilliant job nonetheless considering it’s just a conversion). I also wish Saab to be on the forefront of CNG application, as they were with BioPower in Europe, and work closely with ANG researchers to be the first manufacturer to introduce a very practial ANG car.

    Sweden’s fierce fight for sustainability and energetic independence should mean the guvmint would do everything they can to fill the street with biogas-burning people movers. And that means a hefty grant for local manufacturers, Ms. Olofsson and Mr. Reinfeldt 😀

    • Excuse me, but regarding your first comment, please read again what Tompa has written in the end: “More to come later in the week.” And what does that mean?

      This is really important and I do wish we had these cars at my job since we have pretty good supply of biogas here in the city where I live. I’ll wait for more information from Tompa regarding this beauty.

      • Oh manure, I was too quick to comment… My apologies.

        At any rate, I always get so worked up about CNG. I firmly believe THIS is the fuel of the future, not hydrogen, ethanol or some mysteriously-generated electricity from a socket in the wall. I so want Saab to be a champion thereof.

        I am very much looking forward to more from Tompa! Great to hear more is coming! Please make sure to take ample photos of the trunk arrangement and your thoughts on the practical utility of it.

        • Haha… I guess it was something like that… like a child seeing Santa Claus out in the snow and totally forgets about the big sack of gifts he just left at the door. 😉
          I’m also very excited, and I agree with you about a future fuel for cars. Or let’s say.. one of the best alternative fuels for cars, since we humans produce tons of waste every day that can be used to things like this.

    • Bravada,
      I don’t know if you noticed, but all started with some ANA built conversions on demand. Now the model is available at any dealer with, iirc, Saab as distributor.
      Maybe if this series work well the next step will be a factory build tri-fuel application.
      For now it is OK that they use the expertise of ANA Specialbilar to do the conversion.

  2. Nice Tompa, looking forward to reading the articles that follows.
    But, does this mean that my brand new 9-3 SS 1.9 TTid that I´m picking up tomorrow is out of date already :-/ ?

  3. Yes please, get Biogas going i Sweden.
    Then Haldor Topsøe can make some money for DK whilst Vestas goes down.
    And then please let the Danish Government know that both Bioethanol and Biogas is actually good, so we can get it here.

  4. Micke, doo swing by work and have a looksee at the car. Spikgatan 8… Yeah at the place with all the garbagetrucks collecting for amongst others the Biogas plant. 🙂

    And yes Bravada, this is not a snippets but a tidbit of info on what’s to come.

    Rostnes… Nej det är den inte. Jag är avis på dig för din TTiD! Rostnes… No it’s not. I envy you for owning a TTiD!


  5. Can’t see any significant future here, sorry. Methane in general is just another fossile fuel, a bit better in regards carbon dioxide, as more of the energy is obtained by breaking up C-H bonds, but still fossile. Methane produced from organic residuals is also not the solution:

    -the amounts needed cannot be synthesized by using human waste, nor by any other approach (I am pretty sure on this, because I did estimates on biodiesel and agroethanol, and those turned out to be not feasible)
    -the organic material used is even further depleted, instead of being somehow returned to nature’s cycle, with ecological consequences presently not fathomable
    -CNG requires bulky high-pressure tanks that take away a lot of space in the car (in contrast to e.g. autogas that needs to be compressed less and where accordingly, the tanks will fit into the spare wheel well)

    • Methane is not a fossil fuel. It’s ubiquitous. The name “biogas” is used for methane (or rather natural gas, which is a mixture of methane and other hydrocarbons + CO and CO2) generated biologically especially for commercial utilization.

      I am not really sure why you would apply your calculations regarding ethanol, which is “expensive” to manufacture both in terms of energy and matter, to ethanol. Just count your carbon and hydrogen, and calorific value, and you will see that from the same feedstock you actually can get much more “mileage” if you simply convert it to biogas using e.g. natural anaerobic digestion.

      The organic material is returned to nature – what do you think happens to CO2, water vapor etc? CNG, when burned, produces by far the least CO and CO2 per unit of energy, if you’re concerned about greenhouse effect.

      Methane is being generated all around us – pardon the word, but we DO fart, and just ask cows! As long as we’ve got carbohydrates around, we can have pretty much as much methane as we won’t.

      CNG tanks might be bulky, but they are perfectly feasible to fit in a regular car – just wait for more photos from Tompa (and remember this car still has its gas tank in, so the space utilization is far from optimum).

      If by autogas you mean LPG, it might seem to require less compression – it is simply “packed” tigther because of the liquifcation (natural gas can be liquified as well, then known as LNG), but this process consumes energy and is not entirely clean. Natural gas can be burned as-is, or “cleaned” to biomethane (pure methane from biological sources)

      CNG (compressed methane/biogas):
      – requires no additives for knock-free combustion, and thusly is better for the engine
      – is lighter than air, thus CNG cars can be parked in garages without special ventillation
      – is ubiquitous and can be easily generated almost anywhere from renewable resources, oftentimes solving waste disposal issues (contrary to intricate ethanol refining, generating methane is pretty simple and can be done using almost any feedstock of any characteristics)

      • I could fart as much as I want, that will not drive my car ;-). And that’s the problem. Of course there is a lot of biogenic methane, but it cannot be channelised into a sufficiently pure fuel without ruining the environment.

        There simply is no such thing as a free lunch when using eco systems. A hstorical example might be forest grazing of cattle. At the period when this was done (in Bavaria) the trees showed reduced growth, as shown by their growth rings.

        Most people still do not recognise the scale of our fossile fuel consumption: 800 kg oil per year per person (babies and northern Tibetian monks included), ie a tenfold of food calory content, and 1000 kg coal. This cannot be replaced by organic stuff. We are already running into problems with producing enough food; and that’s at 7 billion people, not the 9 billion that are expected in a couple of decades.

        Let me note that my profession is molecular biologist.

        • Addendum: I am not a proponent of LPG either. I was just contemplating that most gas cars will end up being fuelled by fossile gas, due to the constraints in producing biomethane. In this case, LPG would have bern more _practical_.

    • I am not too sure of the numbers but I think that Haldor Topsøe calculated about 25% of car consumption could be covered by waste products from the paper industry in Sweden
      And they have some other nice ways of extracting and synthesizing fuels.
      I expect a lot of HT and their TREMP and TIGAS processes.
      And I do think they have competitors also working very hard on this

      • Couldn’t find information on Wkipedia, showing my laziness. So I can’t comment on these processes in particular. However, quite generally, biological processes will result in impure products with mediocre yields. It is of course possible to increase purity and yield, but according to the law of enthropy, this will require energy.

        A typical case is oil from plants. Impure, and most of the plant is not oil. It can be purified, as e.g, is done with biodiesel, that, by the way, requires a chemical process to make it usable in Diesel engines. Similar with ethanol.

        After it was found out that the yields are not sufficient to satisfy demand, research (and marketing, and politics) switched to second generation fuels, where a higher percentage of the biomass would be converted to a usable fuel. However, these processes, like the Fischer-Tropsch process, demand significant energy input (high temperture and high pressure). Where will this energy come from? Electric power. At this point, I started wondering wether it might not make more sense to use this electric power directly, in particular since the losses in storing and retrieving power in batteries are small compared to the efficiencies losses in chemical reactions.

        The problem here of course is battery technology which is simply not ready.

        • I see two fundamental problems with the battery technology.

          One is that one has to still carry around one’s battery even when it’s discharged. Plus you have to carry all the ingredients. With (whatever) fuel, it’s different: you do not have to carry the oxygen, plus you do not have to carry back the co2 (or the water, if you have a fuel cell).

          Two is that once (after a couple of years, I guess, just think of your cellphone) you have to replace your battery pack, you have to extract all those really dangerous materials to recycle. Although that might not be a problem for your single occasional battery, it will be a problem if a significant portion of cars runs on batteries.

          We do not know what smart solutions the future will bring up. Therefore I think one should follow all approaches simultaneously. Most probably, there will be a variety of different ways to drive your engine, and those cars will be the best that are able to use more than one kind of fuel/energy.

          • Would agrre to explore seveeal approaches, but the calculation results I got for biofuels were so totally out of frame that in those cases, I would suggest to have a very thorough look before spending to much money. E.g. according to my calculation, when producing ethanol with using nothing but itself (i.e. Basing the energy required for transporting, preparing, destilling etc. also purely on ethanol, 80% of the landmass of earth might be required. I am pretty sure that even one tenth of this would not be available.

            At one time, I was also intrigued by the idea to synthesize methanol from air carbon dioxide, ie with an electrochemical process. However, there is veeeery little CO2 in the air, and a facility replacing just one average oil refinery would need an amount of air that, if all the CO2 is extracted, and it had an inlet nozzle of 50 m diameter, had to suck in air at a speed of 200 km/h, 24 h a day. Can you image the size of a facility that would be able to process this volume of air? Like Kobnhavn, or Hamburg, or would it have to have the size of London?

            The problems with batteries you had stated are all there. Basic scientific research will be required. The outcome is unclear. Still, my educated guess would be put the focus there.

  6. Can they run on LPG as well on CNG? The LPG network is very good in Poland, we drive them a lot. Shame that Saab has so poor marketing in our country :/

    • The marketing might be poor, but the sales are going on strong. LPG is fundamentally different from CNG, and it requires a different installation. LPG is only marginally cleaner than petroleum and other benefits are also marginal, only the favorable taxation works to its advantage.

      Not to mention LPG stinks 😉

      Network development is a major issue, and this is where the authorities need to step in.

      • I’ve heard, that in modern instalations, only difference is tank, and all the wires and plugs can work both on LPG and CNG. True, that the biggest reason people choose LPG, is price around 50% less, than petrol. Taht’s why sometimes LPG is called the petrol for poor, and there are many stereotypes grown around it.

        BTW, we could have a better sales, if our government offered some tax discount, like they have in GB for under 120g/CO TTiD version.

        But the truth is, we’re 10 steps behind europe, because of our politicians.

        I wonder how they will work on the gas slates. There’s a lot of roumor on it now, is this topic as popular in other countries? Is it going to be alternative fuel for cars, or it’s just for industrial use.

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