Biomethane the an­swer to keep­ing trucks on the road for longer trips


Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Mo­tor News Re­porter

While SA con­tin­ues to be rather slow when it comes to the up­take of al­ter­na­tive fu­els, the rest of the world is mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes when it comes to trans­port fleets.

The lat­est news to cross our desk comes from the UK where su­per­mar­ket chain Waitrose has part­nered with re­new­able biomethane sup­plier CNG Fu­els to in­tro­duce Europe’s most ad­vanced fleet of com­pressed nat­u­ral gas (CNG) pow­ered trucks with a range of up to 805km.

They will use tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped jointly with Sca­nia and Agility Fuel So­lu­tions, a CNG fuel sys­tems and cylin­ders com­pany in the US. It will help over­come con­cerns about the dis­tance that CNG-pow­ered lor­ries are able to cover be­fore re­fu­elling. It also makes it eas­ier for fleet op­er­a­tors to switch to re­new­able biomethane CNG.


Justin Laney, GM cen­tral trans­port for the John Lewis Part­ner­ship (which in­cor­po­rates Waitrose), said: “With Europe’s most ad­vanced CNG trucks, we will be able to make de­liv­er­ies to our stores with­out hav­ing to re­fuel away from base. Us­ing biomethane will de­liver sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal and op­er­a­tional ben­e­fits to our busi­ness. It’s much cleaner and qui­eter than diesel and we can run five gas trucks for the same emis­sions as one diesel lorry.”

Ten new Sca­nia-man­u­fac­tured CNG trucks en­tered op­er­a­tion for Waitrose in Jan­uary and will be used to make de­liv­er­ies to the com­pany’s stores in the Mid­lands and the North. They are the first in Europe to use twin 26-inch di­am­e­ter car­bon fi­bre fuel tanks which store gas at 250 bar of pres­sure to in­crease range to as much as 805km. It will al­low them to al­ways run en­tirely on biomethane, which is 35% to 40% cheaper than diesel and emits 70% less CO2.

The tanks, which are al­ready in use in the US, were adapted and cer­ti­fied for the Euro­pean mar­ket, thereby of­fer­ing sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages over the stan­dard Euro­pean set-up of eight steel gas tanks. The ve­hi­cles are half-a-tonne lighter, hold more gas and can cover a greater dis­tance de­pend­ing on the load be­ing car­ried. They are also said to be quicker to re­fuel and eas­ier to main­tain.

Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fu­els, said: “High pres­sure car­bon fi­bre fuel tanks de­mol­ish the ‘range anx­i­ety’ con­cerns that have made many hauliers re­luc­tant to move away from diesel to CNG. Re­new­able biomethane is far cheaper and cleaner than diesel, and, with a range of up to 805km, it is a game-changer for road trans­port op­er­a­tors.”

Each of the new CNG trucks costs 50% more than one which runs on diesel, but Wait­ress is con­vinced it will re­pay the ex­tra costs in two to three years de­pend­ing on mileage. The ve­hi­cles are likely to op­er­ate for at least five more years af­ter that. It is an­tic­i­pated that each truck will save more than 100 tonnes of CO2 a year over diesel.

Todd Sloan, vice-pres­i­dent re­search and new prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, Agility Fuel So­lu­tions, said: “We are see­ing a shift to nat­u­ral gas be­cause it al­lows com­pa­nies to con­trol fuel costs, meet sus­tain­abil­ity goals and take care of driv­ers. CNG costs less than diesel and has lower tailpipe emis­sions.

“In ad­di­tion, our fuel tanks in­crease route ef­fi­ciency and driver con­fi­dence. It’s a win-win for ev­ery­one.”


Says David Burke, spe­cial­ist sales ex­ec­u­tive at Gas for Sca­nia (Great Bri­tain): “To­gether with Waitrose and CNG Fu­els we are de­vel­op­ing a new UK mar­ket sec­tor for ded­i­cated gas ve­hi­cles which we be­lieve will su­per­sede the heav­ier dual-fuel mod­els seen up un­til now.

“In ad­di­tion to be­ing cleaner and qui­eter than dual-fuel ve­hi­cles, our ded­i­cated gas trucks of­fer the con­sid­er­able op­er­a­tional ad­van­tages which come with hav­ing Sca­nia as the sin­gle source of sup­ply.”

Ten Sca­nia CNG trucks en­tered ser­vice with UK su­per­mar­ket chain Waitrose in Jan­uary.

The trucks are re­fu­elled at spe­cial biomethane pumps.

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