Use local gas plea for trucks
THE Australian transport industry could be held to ransom by overseas oil producers if it fails to use more locally sourced gas for fuel.
That is the view of many delegates at the Society of Automotive Engineers Australasia Gaseous Fuels Technology Conference in Melbourne recently.
SAE-A executive director Max Chanter says: ‘‘By 2030, Australia could be importing up to 70 per cent of our crude oil and petroleum products. As global demand for these resources grows, we may have less and less control over both supply consistency and price.
‘‘While governments may recognise these issues, there is no time for complacency. To maintain our economy and lifestyle, Australia must continue to have fuels available at competitive prices.’’
Many speakers supported compressed natural gas GNG for shorter-haul trucks and vans and liquid natural gas LNG for long-haul trucks.
There are minimal differences between the two gases, but LNG is better suited to larger trucks because it can be stored more effectively.
Several manufacturers have recognised the potential of CNG and LNG in Australia, including Iveco, Mercedes, Isuzu and Kenworth.
However, Truck Industry Council CEO Tony McMullan says it could take 20 years to make an industry-wide shift to CNG and LNG.
He says there is no technical issue with trucks running on gas, but the gas industry faces a huge marketing problem to make the switch from diesel.
Wesfarmers EVOL LNG (an LNG retailer) East Coast business manager Simon Humphries says the positives include: Australia having plenty of its own LNG; it costs less than diesel; service intervals can be extended; it’s safer in workshops; and in emergency situations is clean burning and won’t contaminate soils and waterways.
He lists the negatives as: the need for unique equipment; the gas has lower energy density than diesel; there is a tare mass penalty (thanks to the fuel tanks); and the increased cost of vehicles.
Buy local: there is a push for more long-haul trucks to run on LNG.