Alternative Fuels

"Natural gas remains one of the foundational fuels of our alternative fleet, thanks to its ability to meet our diverse needs — especially the demands of the heavy-duty, over-the-road trucks that connect our regional hubs. These big rigs travel an average of 400 to 600 miles per day and require strong pulling power. CNG and LNG have proven to be the best alternatives to diesel for these trucks, meeting their required range and performance criteria while burning cleaner than diesel. Today, there are no other scalable, economical alternatives to replace a class 8 diesel tractor except for natural gas."

Director of Maintenance & Engineering for Transportation Equipment for a large fleet

 

There are many fuel choices beyond traditional diesel and sustainability efforts are encouraging investigation of numerous other fuels.  Infrastructure for natural gas has been improving and more alternative fuels vehicles are accumulating high miles.  Several companies are currently exploring Class 8 electric trucks and hydrogen fuel cells.  Even a biodiesel dynamic blending technology is emerging.

Introduction & Rationale

NACFE is fuel agnostic, and we are here to help fleets use less of whatever fuel they select.  Aerodynamics, lightweighting, tire rolling resistance, tire pressure, idle reduction and other technologies are a benefit regardless of what is in the tank.

Available Systems

  • LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas)
  • CNG (Compressed Natural Gas)
  • LP (Liquid Propane)
  • Methane,
  • DME (Di-Methyl Ether)
  • Electric
  • Hybrids
  • Biodiesel
  • Hydrogen
  • Renewable Diesel (RD)
  • Others

Fuel Economy & Other Benefits

Range Anxiety: it is frequently one of the top issues for any alternative fueled vehicle as fleets are concerned about how far they can run before their next fill up.  The vehicle technologies researched by NACFE help improve the efficiency of virtually any fuel type.  More efficiency leads to Less Anxiety!

Legislative Compliance: The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens have proposed phasing out diesel delivery trucks in their cities by 2025.

Consequences & Challenges

Incompatibility: Sometimes a step forward in alternative fuels can mean a step backwards in aerodynamics, idle reduction or other areas.  For instance, some natural gas vehicle storage tanks are not compatible with the chassis skirts and cab/sleeper aero extenders.

Fueling infrastructure is commonly a challenge as the accessibility of trucks to oftentimes limited fueling stations is limited. There is a government website that illustrates the refueling station availability: https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_locations.html#/find/nearest  The pulldown menu allows selection of several different fuel types including electric fast charging stations.

Facilities Requirements: It can be very expensive to convert a maintenance shop to handle natural gas or other alternatively powered vehicles.  It can also be challenging as standards for such facilities are not set and the fire codes and regulations are not universal.

Common Fleet Strategies

Many of NACFE’s key fleets, such as Frito-Lay and UPS are working heavily on alternative fuels utilization.

What Others Are Saying

NACFE works closely with many organizations in the green space for commercial vehicles.  Find us at ACT Expo, Green Truck Summit, Midwest Green Fleets, DOE Clean Cities events and more.

BSR’s (Business for Social Responsibility) Future of Fuels initiative is helping fleets determine the best fuel choice for their business.  See their approach and tools here at https://www.bsr.org/collaboration/groups/future-of-fuels

Tools (On-line fuel cost per mile comparison of alternative fuels)

http://act2017.wpengine.com/actcalc/AltFuelCalculator.php

BSR’s Fuel Tool can help you make decisions on the fuel for each segment of your fleet.