Engineering News

Renewed Interest In LNG Engines
October 22, 2008

For the last 10 years or so, liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been available as an alternative fuel for city buses and some commercial trucking applications. Today, interest seems to be expanding.

As the EPA 2010 emissions standards deadline draws near, several truck manufacturers have come to market with new LNG powered trucks - and for good reason: many LNG engines already comply with the 2010 regulations. Recently, Kenworth Truck Co., Peterbilt Motors Co. and Sterling Truck Corp. rolled out vehicles specifically designed to be fueled by LNG.

In August, Sterling Truck Corp. showed off its Sterling Set-Back 113 NG, which is powered by the Cummins Westport ISL G, a cooled exhaust gas recirculation engine. The company pointed out that in addition to providing cleaner emissions and annual fuel savings up to $6,000 per truck, there are government incentives that off-set the purchase price. The first customers for the Set-Back 113 NG trucks are the California Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

In March of this year, Peterbilt Motors Co. announced its partnership with Westport Innovations Inc. of Vancouver, B.C., to develop a natural gas version of its Model 386 for Wal-Mart. The company said these units would meet 2008 EPA and CARB emission levels of 0.8g/BHPhr NOx and 0.01g/BHP-hr PM. In addition, the trucks will be eligible for a federal tax credit in the U.S. and other state-specific emissions credits.

In January, Kenworth Truck Co. said it would expand its presence 'in the growing market for environmentally friendly, liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles by beginning production of Kenworth T800 LNG trucks" in 2009. Then this August, Kenworth announced that one of its customers, Total Transportation Services Inc., is now operating eight Kenworth T800 LNG trucks in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach under the major Clean Trucks Program. The trucks are equipped with the LNG fuel system developed by Westport Innovations and installed on the Cummins ISX 15-L engine. The trucks have Westport's High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology and use 5 percent diesel and 95 percent natural gas to power the drivetrain.

LNG-powered trucks seem to be providing the right power with cleaner emissions for specific applications. To date, these vehicles have been used primarily by fleets, which means that most LNG refueling stations are located at vehicle fleet operations and are not open to the public. This is due in part to the various safety issues related to fuel storage and refueling vehicles. However, in conjunction with plans to expand LNG use in long-haul trucking in the West, efforts are under way to improve access to LNG fueling stations in that region. California expects to fund the development of public-access facilities. Such a program is aimed at helping heavy-duty trucks switch to natural gas. LNG's complex onboard storage system does not make it a viable fuel for light-duty vehicles. It is, however, replacing diesel in many heavy-duty trucks.

Source: Fleet Equipment

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