Italian energy giant Eni has unveiled Italy’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelling station for heavy duty vehicles. The station, located in Piacenza in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, is part of the company’s commitment to promoting the use of environmentally friendly fuels through innovative, high-tech solutions.
The Piacenza LNG fuelling station is the first in a series that Eni intends to open over the next four years along major Italian roads.
Eni is an active participant of the European “LNG Blue Corridors” project, which is focussed on the construction of environmentally friendly fuelling stations along four major European trade routes, which cross the continent from north to south. The Piacenza facility opened today represents the high standard Eni intends to meet in fulfilling its commitment to promoting LNG.
Liquefied natural gas has interesting characteristics for use in the heavy duty vehicle market. It takes up about 1/600th of the volume of natural gas in its gaseous state, making it more economical to transport whilst increasing the autonomy of the vehicle using it. A number of Iveco engine units (mono-fuel natural gas vehicles) are already designed to run on LNG to transport goods over long distances.
LNG is obtained by cooling gaseous natural gas to the point of condensation, which corresponds to about -161 °C. It is then transported across the sea in liquid form by LNG carriers, which supply storage depots along the coast. Cyrogenic tankers are then used to deliver the LNG to fuelling stations. There are a number of onshore terminals in use throughout Europe to fuel cryogenic tankers, notably in Belgium and in Spain.
One of the advantages of using LNG is that it is cost effective. Since it can be stored, LNG fuelling stations can be built in locations without access to a natural gas pipeline or where the connection pressure of available pipelines is too low (lower than 2 bar).