CNG trucks can go the distance

elivery trucking is a dirty business, but the companies that rely on it are working to clean things up. Along with the push toward electric trucks and vans, compressed natural gas (CNG) is emerging as a useful alternative to our reliance on diesel power. In the UK, Scania has created a fleet of biomethane fueled trucks for Waitrose, which is looking to reap the rewards with lower running costs and less emissions.

To make sure the trucks can stand up to the rigours of delivery driving, Scania has collaborated with American firm Agility Fuel Solutions. The fuelling system relies on two 26-inch carbon fiber tanks, which store enough gas to cover between 300 and 500 miles (483 and 805 km) without refuelling. The biomethane – which is up to 40 percent cheaper than diesel and emits 70 percent less C02 – is stored at 250 bar of pressure, 25 percent higher than conventional CNG vehicles like the Audi A3 g-tron.

The clever tanks are already in use in America, but the fleet of Waitrose lorries is the first to make use of them in Europe. They’ve been adapted and certified for European roads, and save a claimed 500 kg (1,102 lb) in weight compared to the eight steel tanks used in most CNG trucks at the moment. They also hold more gas than a conventional setup, which makes for greater range.

Each truck is around 50 percent more expensive than a regular diesel truck, but Waitrose is expecting to save between £15,000 and £20,000 (US$18,800 and $25,100) on diesel each year, meaning the extra cost should have been recuperated within three years. The trucks are expected to run for around eight years, which means the supermarket is expecting to save £75,000 to £100,000 ($94,100 to $125,400) over their life. Compared to a diesel, each truck will help save more than 100 tonnes of C02 every year.

“High pressure carbon-fibre fuel tanks demolish the ‘range anxiety’ concerns that have made many hauliers reluctant to move away from diesel to CNG,” says Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels. “Renewable biomethane is far cheaper and cleaner than diesel, and, with a range of up to 500 miles, it is a game-changer for road transport operators.”