biomethane in the tank: this car runs on gas from straw

Cars that run on natural gas tend to lead a shadowy existence compared to electrically powered vehicles. At the same time, they are also more environmentally friendly and conserve resources. A couple from Puchheim wants to draw attention to this fact.

Puchheim – Straw in the tank- in big green letters are the words on Sabine Schober’s car. And this is no joke. Since July last year, the Puchheim-based company has been driving exclusively on biomethane as fuel. When their 16-year-old Passat with a diesel engine became more and more expensive to maintain, Sabine Schober and her husband Stephan first thought about buying an electric car. ÖThe new vehicle should be environmentally friendly. The Puchheim couple had already been working on this topic for some time. Sabine Schober is also a member of the Puchheim Environmental Advisory Board. „Our house is completely climate neutral”, says Stephan Schober (53).

E-car fails

But the topic of e-cars finally fell through. The power line to the garage alone would have cost 3000 euros. “There are also negative aspects to e-cars,” says the Puchheim man, referring to the production of the batteries, which is not yet climate-neutral. And so things finally turned out differently. “We inquired about gas cars.”

The pair also came across the topic of biomethane from straw. And three months later, the Seat Leon ST TGI was finally on the doorstep. Sabine Schober (56) is thrilled with her new vehicle: “It drives great, I’m more than satisfied.”The car accelerates similarly to a conventionally powered vehicle. “You can hardly hear the engine, but otherwise there’s no difference between it and a gasoline or diesel engine,” says the Puchheim woman. In addition, it does not stink when refueling and there are no more dirty fingers. Her husband Stephan adds: “Due to the high weight on the rear axle, it lies very well on the road.”

Range of up to 400 kilometers

This weight is caused by the tank – a 200-kilogram construction made of stainless steel. This is necessary to withstand the high pressure under which the gas is stored in the tank. Comparatively low is the weight of methane, which is sold not in liters but by the kilo. The tank holds a good 15 kilos. With a consumption of around four kilograms per 100 kilometers, the car has a range of 350 to 400 kilometers. And Sabine and Stephan Schober often go to extremes.

“Our son is studying in Ulm, our daughter was first in Ravensburg and is now in Heidelberg,” says the Puchheim woman. When refueling, however, it is important to plan well in advance. Because in Germany there are just 853 filling stations offering natural gas. In the case of the bio variant, there are even a few fewer. “That’s not much, but the filling stations are distributed fairly evenly,” says Stephan Schober.

Tax advantage

He and his wife have so far managed to drive exclusively on biomethane. The car also has a 50-liter gasoline tank for emergencies. Financially, the switch to the natural gas car has also paid off for the Schobers. “In terms of taxation, it is assessed like an electric car,” explains Stephan Schober. In addition, the price of natural gas is just over one euro per kilo. “With biomethane, it’s about 15 cents more,” says the Puchheim native. In addition, the price is not subject to the typical fluctuations of gasoline.

Regulars’ table

With their natural gas car, Sabine and Stephan Schober feel a bit like exotics. “There are just 80,000 vehicles registered in the whole of Germany,” they say. After all, there is a nationwide club in Munich for owners of such cars. Sabine and Stephan Schober have also become members there and are planning to join the club on 3. April a regulars’ table for the Munich region. And last but not least, club membership has also brought the couple into the public eye.

“That was the start of a TV career,” says Stephan Schober. Through the mediation of the club, camera teams have already been guests several times. Stephan Schober is hoping for a further boost for CNG cars, which are overshadowed by electric cars in the public eye. They, on the other hand, no longer play a role for the Schobers. “The more we looked into e-mobility, the more we realized we had made the right decision at the time,” says Sabine Schober.

This is how biomethane is obtained as a clean alternative to gasoline

Unlike LPG, which is a byproduct of natural gas and oil production and refining, biomethane is not produced from fossil fuels but from biomass. Although methane also occurs as a fossil fuel (natural gas). In the bio variant, however, the gas is obtained from straw, liquid manure or energy crops such as rapeseed. The phrase “straw in the tank” on Sabine and Stephan Schober’s car can therefore be taken literally.

While LPG, which consists mainly of butane and propane, is known as LPG (from Liquefied Petroleum Gas), natural gas and biomethane are known as CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). Methane burns cleaner than gasoline. The carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen emissions are lower as a result. With biomethane, only the amount of carbon dioxide that was previously absorbed by the plant is released.

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