There has been a big push in recent months about the trucking industry going “greener.” The push is for natural gas – but is it really better? I have a hard time seeing the advantages to “going green” at this point – with how the economy is already bad, and the government spending (wasting) money like there is no tomorrow.
Diesel engines are far more efficient than natural gas engines. Diesel engines produce more horsepower than natural gas engines on less fuel. One gallon of LNG contains about 60 percent of the energy in a gallon of diesel fuel, and CNG contains even less energy per unit volume – so again how is this supposed to be better?
Diesel engines have come a long way as far as getting cleaner – and will only improve as cleaner burning diesel engines are manufactured. And the fact that we already have everything set-up to make and distribute diesel fuel. Changing to natural gas would cost a whole LOT of money not so much for drilling for natural gas, but refining it and being able to distribute it – fueling stations are few and far between.
As far as the greenhouse gas fight goes (“green-es” as I like to call them) suggest that diesel exhaust devastates the environment. But, one study I read suggests that using natural gas instead of diesel in heavy-duty vehicles increases greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent to 10 percent. This is something the green-es don’t tell you.
Diesel emissions are the subject of continued controversy and scientific research. The Health Effects Institute, Cambridge, Mass., an independent scientific organization, has questioned the scientific validity of quantitative estimates of cancer risk from inhalation of diesel exhaust. However, it is uncertain whether particulates from natural gas engines are carcinogenic either.
With natural gas other safety and health issues arise as well. Natural gas is very flammable much more than diesel fuel. The National Fire Protection Association gives natural gas the highest hazard ranking for flammability, while designating diesel as moderately flammable. Diesel fuel is less flammable because it usually does not form ignitable mixtures unless it is heated.
In order to store liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facilities must be equipped with pressure-release valves to prevent the pressure buildup that can occur when LNG warms and changes to a gaseous state. Special care must be given to the transport, transfer and storage of compressed natural gas (CNG) and LNG to avoid leaks and tank ruptures.
Diesel truck engines outperform those powered with natural gas, though natural gas engines may perform well in less demanding applications such as city environments not over-the-road. Diesel engines are powerful enough to haul heavy loads and climb steep hills, and their high fuel economy allows drivers to travel further between refueling. Drivers of LNG heavy-duty trucks frequently report that LNG engines are less powerful than diesel engines also poor fuel mileages are frequently reported. A conventional diesel truck may cost $70,000, but a natural gas truck costs more than $100,000.
With jobs on the out and money being very tight we are hurting financially and cannot afford to go green just yet.
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Hey thanks so much for a sweet read and great site.. keep up the nice work! We posted a link to this article on our blog!
This looks like the same article printed in 2000 and
may have been right Back then but not today. The Westport
engines will out preform straight diesel. While the Westport
natl gas injection system is not available for all classes they are
converting more every six months or so.
They just sold 188 trucks for long haul operations. As more Nat gas
fueling stations adapt Natl Gas will be common 5-10 years out.
Great subject. Diesel is selling for about $3.20/gal. Natural gas (CNG) varies widely, but the futures (bulk wholesale) price is now $4/MCF or about 57 cents/for energy equivalent of a gallon of diesel. Where natural gas utilities sell CNG, they price it at about $1/gallon gasoline gallon equivalent. Other operators sell for much more, but the utilities show how low the cost could go. It’s a pretty safe bet that natural gas will always be about 1/2 the price of diesel or less.
It’s not just about being clean or efficient. It’s about our national energy security. New advances in shale gas have opened up huge domestic reserves that were unreachable only 10 years ago. When we burn our domestic energy we are much better off. Not only are we keeping our dollars at home, but we don’t need to wage more wars to secure our access to oil in the middle east. And if you don’t think the wars in iraq and afghanistan are about energy.. take a lesson from Dick Cheney, the #1 advocate of those wars, and a huge profiteer of them: In a 1999 speech he said this: “Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature. We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy. The Gulf War was a reflection of that reality. ”
I think your confused, Bob, it is Al Gore, not Dick Chaney, that has enriched himself by about $100m, selling “Global Warming Snake Oil” (ops, now it’s called “climate change”)
to the world… I suggest the movie “Elmer Gantry”! It’s Obama’s stated goal to increase
the cost of “fossil fuels” (including diesel) to make “renewable fuel” cost competitive. This,
along with higher EPA standards is raising operating costs that in most cases can’t be
passed along or recovered by our “Trucking Industry” putting a lot of people out of work,
and driving up the cost of goods & services to all.