Green gas sup­ply is nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion

LNG is the fuel of the fu­ture, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THOUGH nat­u­ral gas is be­ing widely touted as the fuel of the fu­ture for the truck­ing in­dus­try, the lack of a vi­able dis­tri­bu­tion net­work is ham­per­ing its ac­cep­tance with op­er­a­tors.

West Aus­tralian liq­uid nat­u­ral gas pro­ducer Kleen­heat Gas plans to ex­pand its net­work of re­fu­elling points to meet the pre­dicted growth in de­mand for the clean, green al­ter­na­tive fuel.

Evol LNG is the brand name of the liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas pro­duced by the com­pany, which is owned by Wesfarmers.

Aus­tralia has huge sup­plies of nat­u­ral gas. It’s cheap com­pared with nat­u­ral gas in other parts of the world, its price is sta­ble and not af­fected by cur­rency fluc­tu­a­tions which im­ported diesel is. And the sup­ply is not likely to be dis­rupted by ter­ror­ists or events in other parts of the world.

Wesfarmers recog­nised the po­ten­tial of LNG as a fuel for road trans­port in 1998 and be­gan in­vest­ing in the plant and equip­ment needed to pro­duce the fuel.

It has been sup­ply­ing LNG to West Aus­tralian op­er­a­tors Sands Fridge Lines and Mitchell Group, and Mur­ray Goul­burn in Vic­to­ria, run­ning tri­als with sup­pli­ers of LNG fuel sys­tems to eval­u­ate the ben­e­fits of the al­ter­na­tive fuel.

Those tests, in big-horse­power Ken­worths, have shown LNG de­liv­ers sig­nif­i­cant run­ning-cost sav­ings as well as re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions without hav­ing any ef­fect on per­for­mance.

LNG is made from the same nat­u­ral gas used in house­holds all around the coun­try.

The con­ver­sion process strips the propane and bu­tane from the gas, which is used for LPG, as well as the eth­ane, ni­tro­gen and car­bon diox­ide, leav­ing pure meth­ane, which is then liq­ue­fied at -161C to form the LNG.

The en­ergy con­tent of LNG by vol­ume is com­pa­ra­ble to LPG, which means it takes about 1.8 times the vol­ume of LNG to de­liver the same en­ergy as diesel. That means a truck run­ning LNG re­quires tanks al­most dou­ble the ca­pac­ity of the diesel tanks they would oth­er­wise run.

IN COM­PAR­I­SON it takes three times the vol­ume of com­pressed nat­u­ral gas, CNG, to de­liver the same en­ergy as diesel.

For that rea­son LNG is a more vi­able al­ter­na­tive fuel for heavy­duty trucks com­pared with CNG, which is more suited to light and medium-duty trucks where fuel-tank ca­pac­ity is not such a crit­i­cal is­sue.

Though the LNG tests have suc­cess­fully shown the fuel to be vi­able for high-horse­power, heavy-duty trucks, sup­ply­ing it to op­er­a­tors want­ing to use it re­mains a stum­bling block.

The new $137 mil­lion fa­cil­ity opened re­cently by Kleen­heat Gas at Kwinana, WA, is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing 175 tonnes of LNG a day, more than enough to sup­port the 130 trucks now run­ning on LNG in West­ern Aus­tralia.

LNG is al­ready avail­able in Vic­to­ria through the Gasnet out­let in Mel­bourne and through Mur­ray Goul­burn fa­cil­i­ties at War­rnam­bool and Leon­gatha. Kleen­heat Gas has its own re­fu­elling fa­cil­i­ties at Deer Park and a yet-to-beused fa­cil­ity at Tar­cutta on the Hume High­way.

Evol LNG now plans to roll out a net­work of up to 25 re­fu­elling points strate­gi­cally lo­cated on the ma­jor freight cor­ri­dors be­tween Mel­bourne and Bris­bane.

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