For ecological reasons and in view of an efficient environmental protection the Grazer Verkehrsbetriebe (GVB) have seen its obligation in analysing, testing and implementing the currently existing possibilities of alternative fuels in its daily use in the line operation for many years.
Since 1997 the GVB purchases only such busses which are „Biodiesel - capable“. In 2002 the biodiesel initiative was support by the EU-Programme CIVITAS/ TRENDSETTER. At the beginning of the year 2004 already 83% of the bus fleet was operated with Biodiesel - also thanks to the funding of the EU; at the end of 2004 the 100% limit was reached.
To ensure simple and convenient biodiesel fuelling, a biodiesel fuelling station has been built. This station is open for GVB buses as well as other municipal vehicles.
In order to meet the requirements of emissions for harmful pollutants in a better way and by considering the environmental problems of the City of Graz (particulate matters) tests with emission control systems (catalysts) were carried out. Through the results of the research by the Technical University of Graz, and the company Pankl Racing the particle catalysts have been implemented in the bus fleet successfully. This is in line with the EU-Programme “Kapa GS“ and it increases the attractivity of the city due to less exhausts by the biodiesel driven buses.
Starting with a Biodiesel pilot project in November 1994 first time two GVB busses were adapted to operate with Biodiesel. After a mileage of about 273,000 km one of the engines was dismounted and checked regarding its wear after usage of FAME; no additional wear in comparison to the use of fossil diesel fuel could be noted. Both the city of Graz and the public transport company have decided to go foward with the project after these tests with a full implementation.
The biodiesel buses have 5 - 7% higher consumption but the price of Biodiesel is lower. Therefore the Grazer Transport Services have no financial benefit from using biodiesel. The project is driven by ecological aspects, the interest in technical progress, improved air quality and image improvement. Whith this project an important milestone concerning the environmentally performance of public transport could be set.
It is an interesting fact that the effect of a particulate catalyst in connection with the use of Biodiesel is even better compared to the use of fossil Diesel. The emissions in terms of hydrocarbons amount to about 81%, in terms of carbon monoxide to about 89% and for particles (particulate matters) the emissions can be reduced to about 29%.
The fuel used at the GVB which is generally called Biodiesel is a waste cooking methyl ester (FAME) generated from waste cooking oil or fat after a respective cleaning. A relevant part of this waste cooking oil is collected in a systematic way by 250 restaurants of the City of Graz; also private households have the possibility to bring their waste cooking oil to specifically created containers at collection points. This oil is delivered to SEEG (Südsteirische Energie- und Eiweißerzeugungsgenossenschaft; situated in Mureck - in South Styria) as valuable raw material for the production of biodiesel. The technology for the conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel was developed by the University of Graz together with Biodiesel International (BDI) the know how leader in this field. Our slogan: “From the pan to the tank” speaks for itself.
On average the Grazer Verkehrsbetriebe (GVB) -the municipal public transport company, transports 91,7 Mio passengers, with 135 buses which cover a distance of 8,5 Mio. kilometers/per year. This causes a consumption of 3,8 Mio liter diesel a year and lot of emissions. GVB is the biggest operator in Styria and continuously improving the ecological performance (using noise abating tracks, grey water) and the passenger friendlyness (offering 100% low floor buses, On Board Info screens, etc.).
This biodiesel programme is part of an intensive ecological initiative of Graz for which Graz has been awarded several prizes ( e.g. by Greenpeace," European Sustainable City Award"). The programme include "Ökoprofit ( = Ecoprofit), where companies reduce waste, energy etc., "Thermoprofit" for energy-saving heating, "Ökostadt 2000" (Ecocity) for an integrated and resources-saving approach to urban planning.