Renewable fuels provider Gasrec says results published yesterday following a £20m government funded programme to trial, develop and demonstrate low emission vehicles in the road transport sector have highlighted the significant environmental and financial benefits of gas over diesel, particularly in long-haul applications.
The Low Emissions Freight Trial (LEFT) report from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership tested a range of gas-powered trucks from different manufacturers, including vehicles using spark ignition and compression ignition technologies. It also looked at the performance of vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG), including their biomethane equivalents.
After 12 months of in-service trials in customer fleets, spark ignition gas trucks achieved well-to-wheel greenhouse gas savings of between 69 – 81% when fuelled with RTFO-certified biomethane. When running on fossil gas, spark ignition trucks emitted lower greenhouse gas emissions only in the higher speed cycles; but with biomethane, testing indicated there would be substantial well-to-wheel savings across all cycles, including long haul, regional, urban and city centre missions.
A second trial followed two compression ignition gas trucks, where a small quantity of diesel is used as the ignition source for the LNG. In service data was collected for nine months, demonstrating this technology could generate well-to-wheel greenhouse gas savings of 8 -14% across all cycles even with fossil-based LNG, versus diesel. With biomethane, the well-to-wheel savings increased dramatically to 65% or more.
James Westcott, Chief Commercial Officer of Gasrec, says: “It’s great to have independent trial data which clearly shows the significant CO2 savings which can be unlocked with gas or biomethane, particularly for long-haul missions, which accounts for the bulk of the work our customers handle.
“The trial found the additional capital and maintenance costs for gas trucks compared to diesel can be recouped in just two years, thanks to the lower cost of fuel, based on a vehicle covering 160,000 km/year. This puts gas well within reach for most long-haul fleets – with the additional incentive of increasing profitability over a typical three-to-five-year life.”
The report also confirmed that methane slip was not an issue for gas trucks or fuel stations, and that vehicle reliability was similar to diesel models.
Driver feedback collected during the trial also confirmed that gas trucks were noticeably quieter to operate, bringing real advantages for night-time deliveries.