Companies and researchers are working on infrastructure and technologies to help bring the nation’s growing stock of natural gas to fuel tanks, including those of long-haul vehicles
A different kind of truck stop is coming soon to Atlanta. Greg Roche, vice president for infrastructure at Clean Energy Fuels, is presently scouting locations to build one of the California-based company’s natural gas fueling stations for long-haul trucks by the end of this year. With fracking techniques freeing more and more natural gas in the U.S., the alternative fuel is suddenly much cheaper than those made from petroleum.
“A trucker can save one third of his energy spend by switching to natural gas,” Roche notes, thanks to the historically low prices for the gaseous fuel occasioned by the boom in U.S. shale gas development via hydraulic fracturing. “It’s also good for the environment because it’s the cleanest fuel available for big-rig trucks.”
Clean Energy Fuels already operates six fueling stations dispensing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the big trucks that ply the nation’s highways, ranging from San Diego to Seville, Ohio. Truck stops that pump LNG can be distinguished by their tall, thin storage silos—capable of keeping up to 68,000 liters of this fuel at low temperatures and high pressures. The LNG, trucked in from big liquefying plants much like diesel fuel is trucked in from refineries, then powers the trucks over hundreds of kilometers. Such a station in the port of Portland, Ore., already can handle 1,200 trucks a day.