Planet Gore

U.P.S. Powering Trucks with Liquefied Natural Gas

NY Times:

U.P.S. runs a virtual menagerie of alternative vehicles using propane, batteries or hydrogen fuel cells. Some are hybrids that use hydraulic pressure instead of electric batteries.

But natural gas chilled to 260 degrees below zero and squeezed down 600 times in volume is the company’s choice, Mr. Britt said. His 450-horsepower tractors need so much energy to tow two trailers over mountainous terrain that “the first trailer would have to be all batteries,’’ he said.

U.P.S. received $5.5 million for the project from the state of California that was allocated by the federal Energy Department. The company used $4 million to pay for the extra cost of the trucks and funneled $1.5 million to Clean Energy of Seal Beach, Calif., to build a fueling station.

U.P.S. is not alone. Kenworth, the truck manufacturer, reports several orders in the last few weeks for L.N.G. trucks. Eighteen went to Enviro Express, a company in Bridgeport, Conn., that uses them to haul trash and recyclables. And the truck maker Peterbilt said in January that a trucking company in British Columbia had ordered 50 L.N.G. trucks.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., run about 1,000 trucks on liquefied natural gas, but outside of that, only about 300 others are running around the country, according to Clean Energy, a company that supplies compressed and liquefied gas.

And. . .

But the company’s demonstration fleet, 11 vehicles shuttling between Ontario, Calif., and Las Vegas, has shown that the trucks can handle the most demanding situations, like hauling multiple trailers over mountain ranges, U.P.S. says.

I wonder what happens when a truck powered by LNG crashes. The Times failed to entertain the possibility.


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