Decker Is Cooking on Biogas as a First
routeONE magazine|8 March 2017 - Issue 680

Interest in biogas-fuelled buses has grown recently thanks to Scania and ADL’s partnership to develop the Enviro400 CBG. The first are with Reading Buses and we find out how they perform.

The jury remains out on where the bus industry goes post-diesel, but Reading Buses’ mind was made up a long time ago. Gas is the answer as far as it is concerned, and earlier this year it became the world’s first operator to place a Euro 6 biogas-fuelled double decker into service.

Reading now has five of these Scania N 280 UDs with Alexander Dennis (ADL) Enviro400 CBG bodywork on the road, and Chief Engineer John Bickerton says that it would surprise nobody at the operator if the type wins this year’s tendering round for new double-deckers.

“The biogas double-deckers have performed brilliantly so far and drivers love them, although we currently have three diesel Scania Enviro equivalents on loan and they are doing very well too.

“From the cab there is little difference between diesel and biogas examples, although in the saloon the quieter gas engine means that gearbox noise is audible; in a diesel, it is not.”

Reading Buses already has a number of biogas-fuelled single-deck Scania Enviro buses, and John says that their fuel consumption is broadly comparable with the double-deckers’, at around 2km per kilogramme of gas. Gearbox optimisation work is still to be done on the double deckers, which should improve returns slightly. Scania says that it is committed to biogas buses as a major component of its range at Euro 6, and it recently disclosed that requests for quotes for gas now account for 50% of operator interest.

Gas allows a simpler driveline than diesel and biogas is carbon neutral because it is produced by anaerobic digesters from food waste. The current climate makes that ‘A Good Thing’, and it would be no surprise to see the Enviro400CBG gain traction with other buyers over coming years.

Build

The Enviro400CBG body is very similar to the Enviro400 MMC, but it is built to an interim length of 11.46m that is not offered with diesel chassis. It is 4.32m high.

This extended length gives space at the rear of the upper deck to house gas tanks while retaining the seating capacity of the short Enviro400 MMC.

The tanks’ location is obvious; in place of the rearmost row there is a large box, and so they cost four seats. For Reading Buses capacity is key, but John says that the compromise is something that it is willing to accept. Some gas tanks are also under the staircase.

Scania’s OC09 engine is fitted. It displaces 9.3 litres and develops 280bhp; torque is produced in the same manner as a diesel, with the OC09 pulling well from 1,000rpm. The engine is mounted on the offside, with a large radiator directly above it. As a result, like the diesel Scania Enviro400 MMC, there is no lower deck rear window.

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