Applicability of operating compressed natural gas vs liquid natural gas trucks on long-haul routes

Report: Executive Summary

This report focuses on (a) understanding the nature of the Canadian Heavy Duty Vehicle (HDV) - Class 8 registered tractor market operating in a “regional haul” model, (b) the experiences gained by the existing Canadian CNG / LNG heavy duty vehicle fleets and (c) the suitability of the ISX12 G (11.9L) Cummins-Westport CNG engine to service that market segment. The specific focus was the Category 1: Tractor Semitrailer with 4 and 5 axles.

Based on 2006 and 2012 Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) Commercial Vehicle Survey analysis of weigh scale data results show between 80-85% (81.5% in 2012 and 85.3% in 2006), of all trucks were operating below 36,300 kg GVW. Based on a Category 1, Tractor Semitrailer (5 axles) configuration between 90-95% (90.9% in 2012 and 95.2% in 2006), were operating below 36,300 kg GVW and between 10-15% (8.4% in 2012 and 14.0% in 2006) were running empty.

Based on the upper operating limit of the 400 HP ISX12 G engine, set at 36,300 kg GVW (80,000 lb GVW), there appears sufficient opportunity to move freight along the Quebec - Ontario freight corridor including cross border runs utilizing this engine configuration on CNG or LNG.

A clear opportunity exists to help better educate HDV fleets and owner operators to know where the 400 HP - 12L NG engine can be integrated into existing regional-haul applications to serve a significant portion of the market carrying freight in trucks up to 36,300 kg (80,000 lb) GVW.

For B.C. and Alberta, all the anecdotal information, research, discussions and surrogate data collected all strongly pointed to a more demanding set of expectations to move freight throughout this region, by way of the main regional corridors. There is a clear need for a higher horsepower natural gas OEM designed or supported engine for use with loads in excess of 36,300 kg GVW especially in areas of the country having elevations and through mountainous terrains in western Canada.

Canada may wish to consider the support of some additional engine technology development in the area of a continuing need for a generally higher than 450 horsepower NG heavy duty engine to specifically support these markets.

Relying on a 13.0 – 15.0 L aftermarket dual fuel NG engine solution is likely not sustainable based on specific activity and focus by the U.S. EPA addressing the general issues associated with the vehicle glider and diesel engine retrofit market, added complexity of future OBD regulations for the HDV market and increasing emphasis on GHG emissions and associated methane emissions.

Dual fuel engines could play an important role in filling the gap for higher horsepower (> 450 HP) NG engines in Western Canada, provided the GHG emissions can be shown to provide clear benefits over diesel.  A study should be conducted to assess the emissions from market available dual fuel engines in Canada, review the potential for emissions improvement, and find ways to limit dual fuel systems to those with documented satisfactory emissions performance.   OEM involvement would be an important asset.

The U.S. HD Class 8 truck traffic overall GVW limits is to not exceed 36,300 kg GVW (80,000 lb GVW) as per the Interstate Highway regulations. Several states allow well in excess of that value to support the in state trucking needs. The influence of future federal and border state regulation will impact the potential for future higher horse power natural gas HD engines depending on the size and expected growth of the U.S. market.

Canada should continue to actively monitor U.S. federal and state regulatory activity as it relates to NG HDV offerings, applications and general changes in GVW allowances for HDV and specific regulations or permitting provisions that might impact Canadian codes, standards and regulations.

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