The residue left after grapes are pressed for wine, known as ‘marc’ in French, is being transformed into bio-fuel and used to power local bus services around Bordeaux. The project involves Swedish bus maker, Scania, French transport operator Transdev, and Bordeaux-based bioethanol producer, Raisinor France Alcools.
The buses, which currently run between Bordeaux and Blaye, are noticeable for the large bunches of grapes painted on their sides and the words: “I run on bioethanol made from grape marc” (Je roule au bioéthanol issu du marc de raisin.)
While the bus service is the first to be officially launched in France, Raisinor has been running bioethanol tests with buses and trucks since 2010. It was the first company to have their bioethanol approved for French fuel use. The bioethanol powered bus services are due to be expanded shortly in and around the town of Dax (about two hours south of Bordeaux), Montpellier and Avignon, said Raisinor director, Jérôme Budua.
Supplies of grape marc, said Budua, come from a range of French wine co-operatives, notably the Bordeaux region UCVA (Union Coopératives Vinicoles d’Aquitaine). The UCVA produces red, white and rosé Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur and Crémant de Bordeaux appellation wines and about 100,000 tonnes of its grape marc is converted into ethanol every year.
Raisinor began working with Scania in the 1990s, providing bioethanol, known commercially as ED95, for Swedish buses. The partnership grew following a 2009 European Union directive that expanded the testing remit for second-generation bioethanol. “First generation bioethanols were made from food products such as beetroot and grains. Second generation bioethanol, also called advanced bioethanol, is made from waste products, removing any competition between food and fuel needs,” said Budua.
Compared to diesel, ED95 produces 85% fewer carbon emissions, 50% less nitrogen oxides and 70% fewer particulates, Budua said. Despite its name (ED stands for Ethanol Diesel) the fuel contains no fossil fuels. It can, however, be used in diesel adapted engines at no additional costs. In another development, Budua said French truck operator, Veynat, is now using bioethanol to power the delivery trucks sent to organic food and wine shops around Bordeaux.