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Fleets report on CNG/LNG experience

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  • Fleets report on CNG/LNG experience

    Fleets report on CNG/LNG experience
    Mar. 13, 2013
    David Cullen | Fleet Owner

    NASHVILLE, TN. Several trucking operations with extensive experience operating natural-gas vehicles (NGVs) related why they run engines fueled by CNG (compressed natural gas) and LNG (liquefied natural gas) and what advantages these powerplants are delivering. The fleet managers spoke during a well-attended technical session presented here yesterday during the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting.

    Steve Sutton, UPS automotive & engineering manager, pointed out that the package-delivery giant has an “all-of-the-above strategy” in place for alternative fuels “as there is no blanket solution yet.” He said examining each alternative involves considering mitigating the risk of operating with it, its impact on environmental sustainability and the role of legislation. “All play a part in choosing the fuel” for a specific truck application, he said.

    As for CNG, he reported the company has been operating trucks powered by it since 1989 and now over 1,000 of its package cars use it. He said UPS was the “first in the industry to purchase” LNG - in 2000 - and now runs a group of tractor-trailers powered by it in its West Coast fleet.

    “We’ve found that CNG is suited to mid- to lower [mile] range operations and view LNG as looking particularly attractive for long-haul Class 8 applications,” Sutton related.

    He said making a decision to adopt either CNG or LNG must be based in part on the “diesel/alternative-fuel price spread, with the idea being to spread out the higher initial purchase cost for these vehicles through the fuel savings attained.”

    Turning specifically to LNG for over-the-road use, Sutton said it can cut petroleum use by 95% and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 25% while providing a 500- to 550-mi. operating range between fill-ups. “LNG tractors have been shown to reduce operating costs, he noted, “but [that must be weighed] against higher initial costs.”

    On the other hand, Sutton said new Class 8 NGV engines coming to market “may reduce vehicle costs sufficiently to enable attractive investments [by fleets] without [outside] financial assistance.”

    Regarding UPS package cars that have been running on CNG, he said based on the company’s 20 years of experience, their maintenance costs are “on par” with other fuels and there are “no issues with drivers or technicians” when running these trucks.

    Sutton also advised that all NGVs must be serviced in designated shop bays that meet the National Fire Protection Assn.’s Code 30A for Motor Fuel Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages.

    Scott Perry, Ryder’s vice president of fleet management solutions, said the company now has 300 NGVs in service, giving it 10 million miles of experience. “We operate NG-compliant maintenance shops in California, Arizona and Michigan—with other locations being upgraded—and two LNG/CNG fueling stations.”

    He advised of a long list of “business case considerations” that must be examined before making a decision on CNG or LNG:

    Vehicle range
    Time-fill vs. fast fill refueling
    Out-of-route mileage caused by access to fueling sites
    Added fueling time (vs. diesel) affects driver hours
    Added vehicle weight of 200 to 600 lbs.
    Whether to build fuel stations or contract with a 3rd party plus private vs. public fuel sites
    “In Ryder’s operations,” said Perry, “decreased costs from NGVs resulted from no DPF cleaning or DEF being required as well as from [substantial fuel savings.”

    Investments needed to run NGVs, however, are pricey, according to Perry:

    Facility modifications run from $250,000 to $500,000
    Technician training/tooling equals $25,000
    Maintenance inventory adds $10,000
    Vehicle premium for tractors runs $50,000 to $60,000
    Vehicle premium for large straight trucks runs $30,000 to $40,000
    Vehicle premium for small straight trucks runs $10,000 to $20,000
    Perry said Ryder’s return on these investments will be influenced by running costs “and right now the fleet is still young” and fuel savings that will be determined by miles run and fuel prices. “Residual values for NGVs,” he added, “are unknown at this time.”

    “Reliability, sustainability and capability” are the watchwords when it comes to deciding on running NGVs, said Michael Birk, Frito Lay’s senior national fleet sustainability manager. “Five or six years ago, the company adopted a national fleet operations strategy before adding alternative-fuel vehicles to our mix,” he noted. He said the idea was to “maximize the return on invested capital by optimizing [our] criteria across a suite of possible [NGV] solutions.

    “As a result, in 2013,” Birk continued. “CNG tractors will be operating out of 50% of our sites and will make up 20% of our entire [tractor] fleet.”

    He said Frito Lay approached the question of fueling by “sending out proposals for suppliers to respond to regarding establishing infrastructure.” He advised that the plan now calls for building public fueling locations near Frito Lay fleet sites.

    “There’s no silver bullet [when it comes to alternative fuels],” Birk summed up. “It takes people, a commitment to process and [accepting] technology [to reach decisions].”

  • #2
    Re: Fleets report on CNG/LNG experience

    CNG and LNG are silver bullets, but these conversions are too expensive. The price has to come down. These prices seem out of line to me, but I am not really knowledgable about it, it is just my hunch. Most technology comes down in price, over time, as it becomes mainstream. Am I wrong? Westport Innovations has yet to make a profit, but there are a lot of other conversion companies that work on diesel trucks. A lot are dual fuel diesel and/or CNG or LNG. The biggest succeses are still in the trash trucks, cement trucks, and other local delivery vehicles. Ships are another big success area. Lockheed Martin has just opened a huge plant owned by NASA, to build LNG tanks for ships: Wartsila is a Finnish company, and is a leader in large Marine engine applications, and stationary engines. These ships run on dual fuel systems that can burn from 10% to 100% diesel or up to 90% LNG. They are a big player worldwide.


    • #3
      Re: Fleets report on CNG/LNG experience

      Good article. I was in Idaho Falls yesterday checking out the new LNG station accross from Love's. I couldn't tell if they were installing a cng side to it or not but it all looks first class. I really think cng will win in the long run but lng has the early lead. It's exiting to watch this little piece of history in the making.


      • #4
        Re: Fleets report on CNG/LNG experience

        I too enjoy the history in the making! I recently posted some stories and photos on part 6 of my blog. Photos of the Transcontinental Railroad Golden Spike site, with the two locomotives. Also photos of Route 66 when it was a dirt road, and the ONLY road to the West. People don't appreciate what they have today, and choose to complain endlessly rather than build the future. My favorite television program ever, was Route 66. I miss the old days. You have to get off the interstates to really contact that America again. Here is a link to part 7, and the photos. Go to numbers 5463 through 5471
        Last edited by Ron Wagner; 03-20-2013, 10:14 AM.


        • #5
          Re: Fleets report on CNG/LNG experience

          As was reported in 2012, the 18 CNG trucks used in Frito Lay's pilot test used natural gas 8.9-liter Cummins Westport engines. The company retires approximately 125 tractors a year, and plans to replace as many of them as they can with natural gas. It could take six to seven years to convert all of the company’s tractor-trailers. Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, operates the seventh largest private delivery fleet in the United States.

          In 2011, the delivery service UPS said it would add 48 heavy tractor trucks running on liquefied natural gas to its fleet. At the time, the UPS fleet had more than 1,100 natural gas vehicles in service, including 11 other LNG-powered tractors.



          • #6
            Fleet Owner May 19, 2022 - Finding fleet alternative fuels beyond EVs

            Fuel Cell and EV vehicles are not readily available to everyone, nor do the performance characteristics of these vehicles meet the specific needs of many fleets. In many cases, these objectives may never be obtainable.

            Fuel sources such as CNG, RNG and renewable diesel - when a vehicle’s full life cycle is considered - can even achieve a total lower carbon footprint than a battery-electric vehicle.



            • #7
              ampCNG Aug 2015 Costs of Operating CNG Trucks

              Following a 2013 report covering 42 Kenworth trucks having the Cummins 8.9L ILS G which were compared with three diesel fleets, this report documents the experience from 16 million miles of operating a Kenworth T660 chassis with the Cummins ISX12G.

              The key findings of the previous paper included total maintenance costs for the CNG fleet of $0.122/mile versus a pre-2010 diesel fleet cost of $0.072/mile while fuel economy for the CNG fleet averaged 5.28 miles per diesel gallon equivalent vs. an estimated industry average of 6.1 miles per gallon for diesel fleets. In this report we demonstrate that maintenance costs per mile decreased by 33%in the new generation truck to $0.082/mile, and fuel economy improved 18% to 6.22miles per gallon.




              • #8
                ACUA 2 June 2022 - Trucks Fuel for Less Thanks to Beneficial CNG

                Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) currently pays $1.33 per gallon to fuel its vehicles. In comparison, diesel rates are exceeding $5.90 per gallon. Since its fueling station opened in 2010, ACUA has saved an average of $0.68 cents per gallon by using CNG instead of diesel. In addition to consistent low rates, ACUA customers benefit from the public bidding process that enables ACUA to enter longer-term contracts for fuel.

                The CNG station in Egg Harbor NJ opened in 2010 with federal funding from the US DOE. Since then, ACUA and its customers have received more than $4 million in benefits from fuel cost savings, sales revenues, and tax credits. ACUA is proud to serve as an example of a public agency that makes responsible and forward-thinking decisions that positively impact its community and the environment.