Re­duc­ing the im­pact on en­vi­ron­ment


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

Volvo Trucks has an­nounced it will start sell­ing liqui­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG) trucks in Europe from early 2018

Volvo Trucks is in­tro­duc­ing Euro 6-com­pli­ant heavy duty trucks run­ning on LNG, or bio­gas, in some in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, al­though cur­rently there are no im­me­di­ate plans for them in SA.

The new trucks are said to have the same per­for­mance, drive­abil­ity and fuel con­sump­tion as Volvo’s diesel-pow­ered mod­els. Fur­ther­more, the new trucks’ CO² emis­sions are 20%–100% lower com­pared with diesel, de­pend­ing on choice of fuel.

The Volvo FH LNG and FM LNG are avail­able with 420hp or 460hp for heavy re­gional and long-haul op­er­a­tions.

“With our new trucks run­ning on liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas or bio­gas, we can of­fer an al­ter­na­tive with low cli­mate im­pact that also meets high de­mands on per­for­mance, fuel ef­fi­ciency and op­er­at­ing range.

“This is a com­bi­na­tion that our cus­tomers in re­gional and long haulage re­quire,” says Lars Mårtens­son, di­rec­tor en­vi­ron­ment and in­no­va­tion at Volvo Trucks.

“While these trucks will not be avail­able to the South African mar­ket in the fore­see­able fu­ture, Volvo Trucks has re­duced the emis­sion of air pol­lu­tants from new Volvo Trucks cur­rently on sale in our mar­ket con­sid­er­ably and de­creased fuel con­sump­tion as well as the over­all im­pact to cli­mate.

“With the de­vel­op­ment of these prod­ucts, Volvo Trucks re­it­er­ates its com­mit­ment to be­come the most pre­ferred sus­tain­able trans­port provider,” says Joe Pre­to­rius, brand man­ager at the com­pany’s South African op­er­a­tion.

In­stead of an Otto cy­cle en­gine, which is the con­ven­tional so­lu­tion for gas-pow­ered ve­hi­cles, the FH LNG and FM LNG are pow­ered by gas en­gines util­is­ing diesel cy­cle tech­nol­ogy. This means that an op­er­a­tor who chooses gas can do so with­out com­pro­mis­ing on drive­abil­ity, fuel ef­fi­ciency or re­li­a­bil­ity says Volvo.

The com­pany’s 460hp gas en­gine de­liv­ers max­i­mum torque of 2,300Nm while the 420hp ver­sion pro­duces 2,100Nm, the same as the com­pany’s cor­re­spond­ing diesel en­gines. What is more, the com­pany says that fuel con­sump­tion is on a par with its diesel en­gines, but is 15% to 25% lower than for con­ven­tional in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines.

The fuel used is nat­u­ral gas in the form of LNG, or bio­gas, known as bio-LNG.

Both fu­els con­sist of meth­ane. If bio­gas is used, the com­pany says the cli­mate foot­print can shrink by as much as 100% and if nat­u­ral gas is used, the re­duc­tion is 20%. These fig­ures re­late to emis­sions from the ve­hi­cle dur­ing us­age, known as tank-to-wheel.

In or­der to max­imise the driv­ing range, the tanks are filled with LNG, which is stored at 4–10 bar pres­sure at a tem­per­a­ture of -140°C to -125°C. The big­gest fuel tank vari­ant con­tains enough LNG for a range of up to 1,000km.

Re­fu­elling takes about the same time as fill­ing up with diesel. When driv­ing, the fuel is warmed up, pres­surised and con­verted into a gas be­fore it is in­jected into the en­gine. In or­der to ig­nite the gas, a tiny quan­tity of diesel is added at the moment of in­jec­tion.

A 100% re­duc­tion of CO² emis­sions re­quires that fos­sil diesel is re­placed with HVO (hy­dro­genated veg­etable oils) and com­bined with bio-LNG.

The com­pany says it is now work­ing to­gether with gas sup­pli­ers and cus­tomers to de­velop the ex­pan­sion of LNG in­fra­struc­ture in Europe.

This de­vel­op­ment is also be­ing sup­ported po­lit­i­cally in many coun­tries and by the EU.

Bio-LNG and HVO are both avail­able in SA but in lim­ited quan­ti­ties, mak­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of these trucks lo­cally dif­fi­cult at present.

“Nat­u­ral gas of­fers clear cli­mate up­sides, it is com­pet­i­tively priced in many coun­tries and there are suf­fi­cient re­serves to jus­tify large-scale use.

“Our fo­cus on LNG ve­hi­cles is cre­at­ing new pre­req­ui­sites for our cus­tomers to run fuel- and cost-ef­fi­cient op­er­a­tions.

“At the same time, we’re mak­ing it pos­si­ble for heavy truck op­er­a­tions to con­sid­er­ably re­duce their cli­mate im­pact,” says Mårtens­son.


Volvo is in­tro­duc­ing liqui­fied nat­u­ral gas trucks in some Euro­pean mar­kets.

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