Volvo has put itself on the record, stating that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), otherwise known as biogas, is the best alternative to diesel for the transport industry if it is to improve its CO2 emissions.
The company has said that it will intensify its development programme for gas-powered trucks as an alternative to diesel for long-haul and heavy regional deliveries. This is because LNG has major environmental benefits, compared with the largely discredited ecological claims for diesel.
Lars Mårtensson, director of environment and innovation at Volvo Trucks, said: “Liquefied gas is the best widely available climate alternative on the market for long and heavy transports. What is needed now is gas-powered trucks that can compete with diesel in terms of performance and fuel consumption, and continued expansion of LNG infrastructure.”
What is LNG?
Liquefied Natural Gas mainly consists of methane, which has been cooled to around -124ºC. The gas, which is liquid in form, takes up roughly one six hundredths of the space of diesel, making it easy to store and transport. As a result, it’s ideal for the long-haul distances that transport industry work demand.
Although it’s a fossil fuel, LNG produces 20% fewer CO2 emissions than rival fuels, such as diesel. It is also a much longer term solution, as the availability of natural gas in the future is much better than that of other fossil fuels.
There is still a question mark, however, on the environmental impact of using methane – a powerful greenhouse gas. If not contained properly, it could cause environmental damage on its own. The problems that this poses for refuelling are one area that Volvo will be examining closely in its forthcoming development programme.
EU Regulations on Emissions
While efforts to improve the transport industry’s emissions and reduce its carbon footprint have been ongoing for years, there is no denying that their recent intensification is in part a response to new EU regulations.
In May 2017, the EU issued a new regulation that demanded a declaration of CO2 figures from all heavy goods vehicles operating within the transport industry by as early as 2019.
Volvo’s Mårtensson confirmed this, stating: “Many of our customers and their customers already work hard to reduce their environmental footprint... Our vision is that trucks from Volvo will eventually have zero emissions, although the way of achieving that is not by one single solution but rather through several solutions in parallel.”
Volvo’s move to extend research into LNG and its possibilities as a long haul fuel is a step in the right direction for the transport industry. But, as Mårtensson accepts, there is still a long way to go. It’s clear that companies will continue to find ways of improving the environmental impact of HGV vehicles in the coming years, all while keeping the nation’s goods moving.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides a valuable service, updating members with the latest information on issues affecting road safety, fuel costs, and other news from the transport industry. Matching delivery work with available vehicles, over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.