Alternative Fuel Myths

There are plenty of ¬†alternative fuel myths going around, and some true facts. In our videos this week we are trying to look at both. As many in the trucking industry are aware we hear a lot of dubious facts about alternative fuels. Every time the price of diesel takes a hike upwards, all of the alternatives seem to reappear and a wide variety of suppliers start to spruik them. This doesn’t mean the whole concept of alternative fuels is a little iffy, on the contrary there are plenty of operations using genuine systems which are effective and productive.

 

Volvo have done a lot of work on alternative fuels and here one of the Swedish truck makers engineers runs through some of the trials end trucks the company is running:

 

We hear a lot about compressed natural gas (CNG) and it has been found to effective in some applications. Here is an example from Kenworth in the US:

 

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is often talked about as a possible fuel for longer distance truck operations. Some operators swear by it, but the specialist equipment and refuelling facilities add a lot of complexity to the process:

 

Meanwhile hydrogen always looks like a real alternative, but has, so far had little take up. This example is in a Freightliner running in and out of the Port of Los Angeles in the USA. It’s clean, green and expensive:

 

Dimethyl Ether (DME) is often touted as an even better alternative. It seems to fit the bill as a cleaner fuel and easy to handle. Trials are running in Europe, Japan and North America, and have been for some time. Accessing a supply of the DME may be an issue, we must wait and see on this one:

 

One alternative does not rely on the fuel involved and this is the hybrid system. The success of car models like the Toyota Prius suggest this one has legs. In the truck world the price premium has limited sales. We may have to wait until the first hybrids on Australian roads come around for renewal:

 

Here in Australia we have seen a series of new technologies arrive and then disappear after trials with a few operators. Any number of hydrogen or gas based systems for diesel engines have been and gone, just like this one:

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Author: Tim Giles

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