LNG as a fuel

LNG as an alternative for diesel or heavy fuel oil in the truck and maritime markets is now becoming a reality.  With new regulations promoting the use of cleaner and lower noise emitting energy sources combined with the high energy density of LNG, gas burning engines are now developing rapidly in the market.

Maritime Industry

The first gas powered ferry begin in Europe in 1998 in Norway with an estimated 7% of all shipping in this region using LNG today.  Key drivers for this is the new ECA zones being created within coastal and inland waterways.

Strict IMO regulations regarding reduction in SOx and NOx will come in place from 2015-6 with LNG seen as the most efficient route to meet this and future requirements.

Under the revised MARPOL Annex VI, the global sulphur cap is reduced initially to 3.50% (from the current 4.50%), effective from 1 January 2012; then progressively to 0.50 %, effective from 1 January 2020, subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018. The limits applicable in ECAs for SOx and particulate matter were reduced to 1.00%, beginning on 1 July 2010 (from the original 1.50%); being further reduced to 0.10 %, effective from 1 January 2015. (source www.imo.org)

Truck Fueling

EU legislation requires a reduction in greenhouse gas intensity of the fuels used in vehicles by up to 10% by 2020.  This has led to the development of the Blue Corridor program to support the building of a core of LNG and CNG fueling stations across Europe.  For the end user, LNG as a fuel can provide multiple benefits

1 Economical reasons

  • Higher purchase cost for CNG/LNG trucks and buses are compensated by return of investment due to a favorable or more stable fuel price, if the proper, steadily favorable fiscal policy is kept in place (Benelux: 15 ct/lit cheaper than diesel).
  • Favorable fuel taxation is essential and customer awareness is crucial for broader market acceptance. CNG and LNG are sold in kg therefore the related cost advantage of natural gas vs. liquid fuels is not transparent due to a wrong labeling.

2 Environmental reasons

  • CNG/LNG is the cleanest fossil fuel with the best carbon to hydrogen ratio (CH4) reducing 27% CO2 vs petrol, 12% vs diesel and savings of up to 97% are possible when using renewable sourced methane.
  • Harmful substances and air pollutants, such as fine particulate matter are absolutely avoided with Nox emissions extremely low (even 50% below EUR VI)
  • New Euro VI regulations mean that HGVs have had to lower their emissions, resulting in more and more Fleet Owners considering the benefits of LNG and dual fuel.

3 Noise

Noise & vibrations are halved in Natural Gas Trucks vs traditional fuelled trucks (72dB (A) versus 82dB (A)); LNG trucks meet the “PIEK standards” resulting in a substantial contribution to the reduction of noise, in case of, for example, city distribution (supermarkets)

4 Safe fuel

CNG/LNG is a very safe fuel, compared to other fuels safety is assured due to its physical properties, but also due to the stringent safety requirements for the vehicle fuel systems:

  • Natural gas is lighter than air, not accumulating on the floor in unlikely case of a leakage;
  • Natural gas auto ignition temperature is higher than for most other fuels, namely 580°C (i.e. almost 2 times as much as gasoline);
  • Natural gas flammability range is quite narrow, generally between 5-15% by volume of air; 
  • Natural gas fuel systems, icl the tank, are approved according to the most stringent international safety regulations, i.e. ECE R110, assuring the proper design, installation and mechanism.