An increasing number of trucking companies are shifting to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power their fleets of large tractor trailers, a trend that one analysis predicts could reduce U.S. oil imports by more than a million barrels a day.
Looking for a cost-effective fuel alternative to diesel — which climbed to more than $5 a gallon in 2008 — the United Parcel Service (UPS) this week will add 48 LNG-fueled trucks to its hubs in California and Nevada.
The technology uses natural gas cooled to 260 degrees below zero and compressed 600 times in volume. And although the engines require an occasional squirt of diesel, overall diesel use is reduced by about 95 percent. “It’s the only long term viable option to diesel,” said Michael G. Britt Sr., director of maintenance and engineering at UPS.
The shift to LNG makes economic sense as diesel prices have risen while prices for natural gas have fallen following the discovery of large U.S. reserves of natural gas in shale deposits. Truck manufacturers Kenworth and Peterbilt say they have received several other orders for LNG trucks in recent weeks.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.