Results from Karlsruhe in Germany reveal that natural gas can provide an alternative to diesel for long-distance routes. This is only possible if the network of LNG gas stations is expanded.
Both the Benelux and Germany are currently engaged in a debate about acceptable levels of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. It is a fact that clean air increases the quality of life in cities and promotes good health. This is the reason that several German cities, including Stuttgart, Berlin and Bonn, have already taken action. They prohibit older Euro 1-5 diesel vehicles or announce such a ban in 2019. At the moment, trucks are exempt from such bans.
With the eyes on the future, logistics service provider DACHSER also wants to prepare for possible driving bans and to increase the number of engines with lower emissions in its fleet. DACHSER already operates hybrid and electric trucks in city centers, but liquefied natural gas can also be a promising alternative. This shows the results of recent tests under real conditions in Karlsruhe.
As part of the investigation, DACHSER has also built a mobile LNG gas station in Karlsruhe. The results were positive. After completing tests of more than 5000 kilometers, the LNG-powered truck has proven itself as a good alternative in DACHSER’s fleet. “The drivers were impressed. They have not really noticed a difference in handling a diesel truck, ”says Tomas Leyerle, who is in charge of the fleet and technical equipment at the DACHSER logistics center in Karlsruhe. “The indicated range of 1000 kilometers on one tank is also very realistic, as the scheduled service to Rheine and to Switzerland showed.”
Some manufacturers already produce trucks that run on LNG on a large scale. The fuel offers several additional benefits. It reduces CO2 by twenty percent, NOx by seventy percent and it ensures ninety-five percent fewer soot particles. When using biogas, there is even a ninety percent reduction in CO2 values. In addition, there are lower noise emissions. However, there is a major hurdle; the network of gas stations is insufficient. The vehicles receive toll exemptions, making them an attractive alternative to diesel vehicles, but despite these advantages, the network of gas stations is still insufficient at the moment. However, EU countries and gas station managers are planning to expand the network enormously in the coming years.