A major step for the development of liquefied natural gas for transport was announced during the IAA 2014, this year’s edition of the world’s most important exhibition for commercial vehicles. Erdgas mobil, the energy industry’s initiative to establish natural gas as a fuel in Germany, recently achieved a model approval for the build-up of LNG filling stations. This means LNG stations can now be constructed in Germany backed by a reliable framework.
In order to evaluate the prospects of LNG in German and European transport, erdgas mobil had organised a press conference themed “LNG – Ready for Germany” with support of Italian manufacturer Iveco. NGVA Europe, the author of this article, participated in the event, as did energy provider E.ON, which is offering LNG in Germany under the brand ‘Liqvis’.
“LNG offers the cost and environmental benefits of CNG for long distances, making it a real and marketable alternative to diesel. So far, the vague approval process was a major hurdle for the construction of stationary LNG fueling stations. This problem has now been solved”, explained Timm Kehler, CEO of erdgas mobil. “Vehicles, filling stations and the fuel are now available, paving the way for environmentally and economically sound long-haul traffic”, he added.
The initiative for approval, a joint effort between erdgas mobil and TÜV Süd, was supported by the LNG Blue Corridors. The EU-funded project represents the first phase in the staged roll out of LNG refuelling stations and a broad market development for heavy-duty vehicles powered by liquefied natural gas. Running for 4 years, it will connect over 12 Member States by means of 14 new LNG stations. The first year has just been completed and 3 refuelling points have been built. They are operating in Belgium, Italy and Sweden. The construction of a station in Germany is also foreseen, with planning being handled by NGVA Europe member erdgas mobil. [Erdgas mobil GmbH is an initiative of the leading German power supply company, bringing together the activities and expertise of the 12 member companies across Germany in order to establish natural-gas and bio-natural gas as an alternative fuel and exploit its market potential.]
Supporting the LNG Blue Corridors is part of the EU’s strategy of reducing dependency on crude oil and lowering greenhouse gas emissions caused by transport. Natural gas as a fuel reduces CO2 emissions by 20% compared to diesel, and when renewable biomethane is used, NGVs run virtually CO2 neutral. In addition, gas engines produce virtually no particulates and reduce noise levels substantially.
European policy makers are taking advantage of these environmental benefits and made natural gas (CNG/LNG) a cornerstone of the Clean Power for Transport package, as Lennart Pilskog, Secretary General of NGVA Europe, explained during the press conference. The included Directive on alternative fuels infrastructure, approved by the Council on 29 September 2014, has addressed the biggest challenge for increased use of NGVs by setting clear targets for the build-up of a comprehensive refuelling infrastructure for natural gas in Europe. “LNG will play a key role, especially for commercial vehicles”, Pilskog pointed out.
On the vehicle side, trucks and buses with Euro VI gas engines were one of the trends at the International Motor Show’s 65th edition.
Much attention was directed to the new Iveco Stralis Hi-Road, offered as CNG or LNG version. Both options have an output of 330 hp and comply with Euro VI emissions standard, with the LNG version providing an increased range of over 700 km. The Stralis LNG is the first Euro VI LNG truck in Europe and its tank fully complies with the revised Regulation UNECE No.110. Iveco also announced a Euro VI natural gas version of the Iveco Bus Crossway, available from 2015. Moreover, the 3rd generation of the Iveco Daily van includes a CNG version that is Euro VI compliant and matches the diesel in terms of reliability, comfort, and payload.
Mercedes-Benz introduced the latest version of its Econic NGT in Hanover, a CNG truck designed for waste collection and distribution. It is equipped with a newly developed Euro VI engine that has an output of 302 hp and maximum torque of 1200 Nm. Compared to the previous version, the additional weight for the CNG drive has been cut to half, thereby increasing payload by 400 kg.
Swedish truck specialist Scania currently has two Euro VI CNG engines with 280 hp and 340 hp respectively. They are available for the company’s Citywide bus and various models of the truck series. In addition, Scania plans to introduce the P 340 LNG, a Euro VI LNG truck in 2015.
MAN announced that it will expand its offer of CNG vehicles from 2014 onwards. Besides the existing range of gas-powered city buses, CNG trucks will also be added to the portfolio. A preview was given at MAN’s stand, where a 280 hp CNG truck based on a TGM distribution chassis was showcased.
Association member Fiat seized the IAA to present new CNG versions of its Doblo and Ducato vans. Both light commercial vehicles are equipped with a dual-fuel system (CNG/petrol), have an output of 136 hp, provide 350 Nm torque and also comply with Euro VI. They will be available from 2015.