Natural Gas Trucks and What Dispatch School Students Should Know About Them

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The trucking industry is going increasingly green and proof of that fact is in the growing popularity of natural-gas-powered trucks. Trucks or other types of fleets running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) are being used by companies across Canada, such as Enbridge, Waste Management, and even BC Ferries.

In fact, major automotive companies such as Volvo and Daimler have made big commitments to LNG trucks, and the science behind how these trucks function is surprisingly interesting. Here’s what students in dispatcher training should know about them.

Natural Gas Helps Make These Trucks More Environmentally-Friendly

Not only does natural gas burn more cleanly than other kinds of fuels, but its emissions are much lower. Specifically, natural gas-powered vehicles emit up to 95 per cent less nitrogen oxides into the air. In fact, LNG trucks emit nitrogen oxide at around 0.2 grams bhp (boiler horsepower)/hr, which is only a fraction of the 8 grams bhp/hr that diesel trucks can emit. As a result, natural gas trucks are around 19 times cleaner than diesel ones. 

Although it can still contribute to greenhouse gases, natural gas reduces those emissions by between 17 and 19 per cent compared to diesel. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in particular can be reduced by up to 30 per cent. It also saves money by reducing the cost of fuel up to between 30 and 40 per cent per kilometre.

Natural gas trucks can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 30 per cent
Natural gas trucks can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 30 per cent

Natural Gas Is Safer, But Has More Maintenance Considerations

One major component that natural gas has going for it is that it’s not only cleaner and less expensive than other types of fossil fuels, but it’s also safer. Natural gas is considered non-toxic and presents a much lower risk of contamination to the environment in the event of a spill.

Another element of natural gas that sets it apart from diesel fuel is that it needs to be maintained differently. Unlike diesel, which can be used at any time after being placed in a tank, natural gas needs to stay at a certain temperature. Therefore, those at dispatch school should know that it’s important to time when you fuel up, as well as how long natural gas is in the tank, and at what temperature and pressure.

Those in Dispatcher Training Should Know the Difference Between CNG and LNG

When it comes to natural gas trucks, there are two types of natural gas: compressed and liquefied. Each is best for certain kinds of trucks and both have distinct fuelling processes. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is best for delivery trucks and fleet vehicles. As for liquefied natural gas (LNG), it’s best for tractor trailers and mine haul trucks.

Natural gas trucks run on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG)
Natural gas trucks run on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG)

There are also two kinds of LNG: warm and cold. Warm LNG is liquefied natural gas found in smaller engines and is kept just at the point where it turns to vapour. Cold LNG is always liquid and needs to be pumped out of a tank before turning to vapour. If you’re dealing with natural gas trucks after your dispatcher training, keep in mind that there’s an art to maximizing its driving range depending on what type of natural gas is used.

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