Volvo Trucks View on Methane (LNG) as an Automotive Fuel

| Sweden, Göteborg

Volvo TruckVolvo Trucks has confirmed the Volvo MethaneDiesel Euro VI engine will be introduced in Europe at the end of 2017. The new high pressure direct injection (HPDI) engine has about 15 per cent higher energy efficiency than a conventional gas-powered (CNG) truck powered by an Otto cycle engine and the same efficiency as a diesel engine. But why the ongoing focus on natural gas as a truck fuel? There are very good reasons, explains Volvo.

The company’s goal is to create the right preconditions for transportation that is sustainable in the long term, through energy-efficient, competitive and future-proof solutions with a low climate and environmental impact. For heavy trucks in regional and long haul operation, methane in the form of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is the fuel that is best positioned to quickly become a competitive, globally available, alternative to diesel.

Why LNG?

  • Reduced dependence on oil: Increased use of LNG will cut the heavy long haul transport industry’s dependence on oil.
  • Good availability: There is good global availability of LNG, and it can be produced in large quantities. Producers and distributors are positive to the idea of establishing LNG as an automotive fuel.
  • Lower climate impact: A truck running on natural gas has about 20 per cent lower climate impact than a diesel-powered truck (tank to wheel) depending on the choice of engine technology.
  • Sufficient operative range: With liquefied gas, it is possible to carry sufficient fuel on board the vehicle to drive long distances (500 – 1 000 km) between refuelling stops.
  • Competitive fuel cost: Both production cost and end-user price are today generally lower for natural gas than for diesel, creating favourable preconditions for haulage operators to cut their fuel costs.
  • Opens the door to biogas: Infrastructure and vehicles for LNG will pave the way for increased use of methane from renewable sources (LBG or RNG), which today has only limited availability.
  • Meets transport purchasers’ environmental demands. By using LNG, and above all LBG, haulage companies will be able to meet their customers’ increasingly tougher environmental demands.

What is necessary for its establishment?

In order to establish LNG and grow its market share, it is necessary to expand the infrastructure, develop energy-efficient vehicles designed to run on LNG, and create policy instruments that aid market introduction.

Infrastructure: An interlinked network for distribution and refuelling of LNG has to be built along strategically important roads and at major transhipment hubs. (In Europe initially along the Trans-European Network.)

Vehicles: Volvo Trucks supports the continued development of LNG as an automotive fuel. In order to achieve good transport economy combined with long operating range and low climate impact, it is necessary to have vehicles with higher energy efficiency than today’s gas-powered trucks.

Policy instruments: In order to help establish LNG on the market it is vital for society to create clear long-term rules as well as solid incentives for infrastructure establishment and investment in new vehicles. It is also essential that the fuel is competitively priced.

Volvo Trucks’ contribution

  • With extensive experience, an overall view on alternative fuels and state-of-the art technology, Volvo drives and enables the development of complete solutions for LNG as an automotive fuel.
  • Volvo act as a knowledge-partner bringing together stakeholders from all parts of the value chain – from producers and infrastructure suppliers to end-users.
  • Volvo has developed a new engine for LNG that still offers the diesel engine’s high efficiency rating and driveability.
  •  The Volvo MethaneDiesel Euro VI engine has about 15 per cent higher energy efficiency than a conventional gas-powered (CNG) truck powered by an Otto cycle engine.
  • CO2 emissions are about 20 per cent lower than for a corresponding diesel-powered truck. (If LBG is used, the emissions are considerably lower.)
  • The Volvo MethaneDiesel Euro 6 engine is a fully commercialised and quality-assured product that will form an important part of Volvo’s volume segment.

LNG is natural gas that has been cooled down to below -162 degrees C, making the gas’s volume about 600 times smaller. Today LNG is used primarily for heating and industrial purposes, and increasingly as an automotive fuel.

Volvo is a corporate member of NGV Global.

(Source: Volvo)

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