subscribe to ENR magazine subscribe
contact us
advertise
careers industry jobs
events events
FAQ
Mcgraw Hill Construction
ENR Logo
SUBSCRIBE TODAY
& receive immediate web access
comment

Liquefied Natural Gas Arrives on Work Trucks

Text size: A A
[ Page 1 of 2 ]
Photo by Tudor Van Hampton for ENR
Westport's concept Ford F-550 bi-fuel truck was fitted with a hardened V-10 gasoline engine, LNG injector rails and a cryogenic tank behind the cab.
----- Advertising -----

Fleet owners contributing to the natural gas extraction boom are increasingly looking to power their equipment on it. However, the alternative fuel's up-front cost and lack of infrastructure remain steep barriers to mainstream adoption.

Potelco, a utility firm in the Pacific Northwest and unit of Quanta Services, is experimenting with running medium-duty construction trucks on liquefied natural gas (LNG). Until now, LNG has appeared mainly on long-haul trucks operating in coastal states.

"It's half the price of diesel fuel, it's domestic and it's clean," said John Howell, senior director of marketing and business development for Westport, which exhibited a prototype LNG truck it developed for Potelco at the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition on Oct. 1 in Louisville, Ky.

Believed to be the first of its kind, a bi-fuel Ford F-550 Super Duty truck chassis provided the underpinnings for Potelco's concept truck on display at the ICUEE show. The unit was fitted with a hardened V-10 gasoline engine, LNG injector rails and Westport's new iCE PACK cryogenic tank. This particular chassis would likely be upfitted with a dump body, Howell noted.

Holding the equivalent of 60 gallons of gasoline and sitting behind the operator's cabin, the tank keeps the LNG fuel at a temperature of roughly 260 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and pressurized to about 300 psi. The truck also had a 40 gallon gasoline tank mounted below the frame rails and behind the rear axle.

The truck is calibrated to start on LNG and then switch seamlessly to gasoline once the gaseous tank is empty. An LNG fuel gauge on the cab's center stack helps drivers keep tabs on the alternative fuel supply.

Once the cryogenic tank is filled, which takes only a few minutes, the fuel needs to be used within 10 days, Howell said, or it will eventually dissipate as it warms up.

The LNG system effectively doubles the vehicle's range and costs about $25,000, adding roughly 63% onto the $40,000 base truck's price. But few of these trucks run bare: Utility bodies typically add thousands more to the cost of the truck, bringing down the LNG premium.

Although some construction firms have started to power trucks on compressed natural gas, few have asked for LNG, Howard said. One reason is the lack of fueling infrastructure: More than 600 public CNG stations are available across the U.S.; however, only 35 LNG stations exist today, according to the Dept. of Energy.

Keywords:

[ Page 1 of 2 ]
----- Advertising -----
  Blogs: ENR Staff   Blogs: Other Voices  
Critical Path: ENR's editors and bloggers deliver their insights, opinions, cool-headed analysis and hot-headed rantings
Project Leads/Pulse

Gives readers a glimpse of who is planning and constructing some of the largest projects throughout the U.S. Much information for pulse is derived from McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge.

For more information on a project in Pulse that has a DR#, or for general information on Dodge products and services, please visit our Website at www.dodge.construction.com.

Information is provided on construction projects in following stages in each issue of ENR: Planning, Contracts/Bids/Proposals and Bid/Proposal Dates.

View all Project Leads/Pulse »

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.