Mack Trucks, Volvo Trucks, and Shell Oil Company recently announced a formal agreement to collaborate and coordinate activities supporting the wider use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a fuel for heavy-duty trucks.
James Burns, Shell’s general manager for LNG in North America, provided an update on the collaborative effort during an April 5 press conference in Houston TX. He said Shell is working with truck OEMs, including Mack and Volvo, to make LNG a viable fuel for the trucking industry in North America.
From Shell’s side, that includes helping to build the fueling infrastructure. “We have developed small-scale, modular LNG liquefaction plants to serve the trucking market,” he says. “We have a plant coming on line in western Canada, and we are in the process of developing plants in Louisiana and Michigan.
”In addition to trucking, we’re promoting LNG for other sectors, including rail, marine, and mining. We’re using LNG in our own oilfield operations, and we believe a majority of drilling rigs could be converted to natural gas fuel. We also see a lot of potential for converting the fracking units.”
When the collaboration effort was announced, Kevin Flaherty, president of Mack Trucks North American Sales and Marketing, said that the agreement would foster collaboration on multiple issues, including emissions and fuel specification.
“Mack has had natural gas-powered vehicles in customer service since 2009, and we look forward to working with Shell and other fuel providers to further support the burgeoning natural gas truck market here in North America,” Flaherty said.
Mack recently delivered its first natural gas-powered Pinnacle model fueled by LNG. The company will launch a natural gas-powered Granite model for the construction industry this year. Both models will be equipped with the Cummins Westport ISX 12G spark-ignited engine that can run on LNG or compressed natural gas (CNG). Mack has been offering CNG-fueled TerraPro refuse trucks for a number of years.
Volvo sees the collaboration as important because customer interest in natural gas as a heavy-duty truck fuel will only continue to grow, according to Goran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing. “We plan to introduce our own Volvo LNG-fuelled engine in 2014, and this agreement is part of our effort to collaborate with various stakeholders to ensure that the market is supported with the necessary infrastructure,” he said.
Volvo Trucks announced the development of its proprietary 13-liter LNG engine for North America at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March. The engine’s advanced high pressure diesel ignition technology will provide significant fuel efficiency gains compared with spark-ignited natural gas engines, making it a viable solution for long-haul trucking applications. The company’s proprietary Volvo I-Shift also will be available for customers to specify.
The company currently offers a natural gas-powered option for the Volvo VNM daycab, and will offer a natural gas-powered version of the Volvo VNL daycab beginning in 2013. Both models utilize spark-ignited engines.