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Saab shows how its done with bio-fuel 9-5

High-performance environment: The 9-5 BioPower develops 232kW.

Saab's expertise in bioethanol fuel will be showcased with a 9-5 sedan at Detroit

30 Dec 2005

AFTER a successful launch of the Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower flex fuel car in Sweden, Saab will unveil a concept version of the 9-5 Aero BioPower at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week.

The BioPower concept is capable of 232kW and 440Nm torque from its E85 bioethanol 2.3-litre high-output turbo engine.

This is almost 20 per cent more power and 25 per cent more torque than the conventionally turbocharged 2.3-litre engine.

On the road, this power increase is expected to translate to zero to 100km/h sprint in under 6 seconds, compared to 6.9 seconds for the standard petrol 9-5 Aero.

This is all achieved alongside a dramatic improvement in environmental performance, through significantly-reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.

Saab already leads the European premium car segment in offering a flex-fuel model.

Sales started in Sweden three months ago and the 9-5 2.0t BioPower now accounts for about 70 per cent of all 9-5 sales, outselling all other alternative fuel vehicles combined.

The same model also recently attracted Popular Science magazine's 'Best of What's New' award, an annual selection of 100 breakthrough new products and technologies.

Now BioPower technology is being applied for the first time to Saab's top-of-the-range 9-5 Aero performance model, showcasing the potential of developing a version for global markets, including North American, where E85 fuel is becoming more widespread.

Bioethanol fuel is produced commercially from agricultural crops or forest residues and is already produced in the Midwest region of the United States from corn.

However, the ethanol debate has raised concerns in some scientific quarters that it takes more to produce ethanol-fuels than equivalent conventional oil-based fuels.

However, unlike petrol, bioethanol fuel does not raise atmospheric levels of CO2.

This is because the emissions that are released during driving are balanced by the amount of CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere through the natural photosynthesis process when crops for conversion are grown.

To ensure good cold starting performance, bioethanol is usually blended (85 per cent bioethanol to 15 per cent petrol) and sold commercially as E85 fuel.

E85 has a higher octane rating (104 RON) than petrol, allowing the engine's ignition timing to be advanced for more power without risk of harmful 'knocking'.

The adaptability of Saab's Trionic engine management system has facilitated re-programming to accommodate different ignition and fuel/air mixture requirements.

The only hardware modifications necessary for BioPower are more durable valves and valve seats, and the use of bioethanol-compatible materials in the fuel system, including the tank, pump, lines and connectors.

Trionic monitors fuel quality after every refueling and automatically makes any adjustments necessary for running on E85 and/or petrol in any combination, up to 85 per cent. This means that Saab BioPower drivers can also use regular petrol.

During the development of the technology, Swedish engineers liaised with their General Motors colleagues in Brazil where 100 per cent bioethanol (E100), produced locally from sugar cane, is the dominant fuel on the market.

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