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Study explores Gasoline-Ethanol-Methanol (GEM) fuel potential in Sweden

Domestically produced Gasoline-Ethanol-Methanol (GEM) ternary fuel has the potential to power at least 17 to 22 percent of the combined Swedish flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) and gasoline vehicle fleet by 2030, a new study suggests. The study also provides an analysis of the biofuel production potential of ethanol and methanol from second-generation feedstocks in Sweden.

A new study finds that increased ethanol blends in petrol would have a positive effect on vehicle emissions and air quality.

A new study finds that domestically produced Gasoline-Ethanol-Methanol (GEM) ternary fuel blends could at least power 17 to 22 percent of the combined Swedish flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) and gasoline vehicle fleets by 2030.

GEM fuel is a collective name for fuel blends consisting of gasoline, ethanol and methanol, with an air to fuel ratio similar to that of E85, 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The varying compositions of the ternary fuel can be utilized in E85 flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) without any modifications and in gasoline-powered vehicles after minor modifications.

Entitled “Gasoline-Ethanol-Methanol (GEM) Ternary Fuel Blend as an Alternative Passenger Car Fuel in Sweden“, the recently published master thesis by Sebastiaan Tsirakos, an intern at the Swedish Bioenergy Association (Svebio) provides an analysis on the biofuel production potential of ethanol and methanol from second-generation feedstocks in Sweden.

The report includes a selection of the most suitable ethanol and methanol production pathways with feedstock and conversion technology, an assessment on a Swedish GEM fuel distribution network, a economic competitiveness analysis on GEM fuel blends in comparison to gasoline and E85, and an analysis on the environmental impact of a shift from cars running on neat gasoline to GEM fuel blends.

Hi-Low scenarios

The study also finds that there is a large production potential for domestically produced second-generation ethanol and methanol for GEM fuel. Therefore, with the implementation of GEM fuel, reliance on transportation fuel imports for the Swedish passenger car fleet could be reduced significantly. The study indicates that under the current Swedish policy, these biofuels can be economically produced from second-generation feedstocks.

In order to perform the analysis and to investigate GEM fuel’s potential, two scenarios were developed for projecting the share of the GEM cars in the Swedish passenger car fleet, in the time span from 2017 to 2030. Passenger cars make up almost 75 percent of the road transportation fleet of which gasoline powered cars have a 60 percent share and E85 FFV’s have a 5 percent share.

In both scenarios, the passenger cars running on GEM fuel blends take over the share of cars running on gasoline. The scenarios serve to project the energy demand for GEM fuels when passenger cars running on GEM fuel obtain different shares in the Swedish passenger car fleet, said Tsirakos.

Over 16 percent of all fuel used on Swedish roads during the first half of 2016 were renewable.

Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) that can run on E85 currently have a 5 percent share of the Swedish passenger car fleet.

However, gasoline cars require minor modifications in order to run on GEM fuel and the author suggests that policy instruments, such as financial incentives to gasoline vehicle owners, are provided to promote the conversion from gasoline to GEM to increase the share of GEM/E85 FFVs in the Swedish passenger car fleet.

In addition, Tsirakos points out that GEM fuel can be distributed in the majority of the current well-established distribution network of E85 and gasoline and therefore no major investments are necessary for a dedicated fuel distribution network.

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