Green gas supply is natural progression
LNG is the fuel of the future, writesGRAHAMSMITH
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.