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CNG Semi Trucks: Freightliner Crosses Country to Prove a Point


CNG Powered Freightliner Cascadia 113
Read about the CNG-powered truck here.

CNG Semi Trucks Put to the Challenge

CNG Semi Trucks are making waves in the media. Freightliner Trucking believes in natural gas as a cost-cutting fuel. They believe in it so much, that they decided to put on a real-world demonstration with a cross-country haul from Los Angeles, California to Washington D.C. in a single week. Along the way, the CNG semi truck and drivers made public appearances to educate the public and trucking professionals about why they believe CNG is a viable option for the industry.

Freightliner completed their transnational journey in their Cascadia 113 Day Cab powered only by natural gas on May 24th, 2012.

CNG: Why Does Freightliner Believe that Natural Gas is a Better Fuel Technology for Semi Trucks?

Freightliner trucks just completed their cross-country driving demonstration of a CNG semi trucks power for long haul trucking. If more companies dedicate more money to natural gas infrastructure, could it be a cost-cutting solution for trucking? Two big reasons are where the fuel is sourced, and that natural gas is less vulnerable to wild market price fluctuations like crude oil is. Over the past five years, natural gas fuel prices have remained well below that of diesel fuel and have been more consistent, avoiding the fluctuations in prices caused by speculation and the current geopolitical climate.

Natural gas deposits are in abundance in North America. North American countries can harvest it with domestic labor, transport it by truck or rail easily, quickly and much more cheaply than oil from the Middle East. The refining cycle for the fuel source is less costly and environmentally sound. The fuel extraction, refinement, transportation, sale and distribution is done entirely in North America, through businesses and workers here, not there.

CDL LIfe coverage of Natural Gas Power in the Trucking Industry

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What Kind of Truck is Freightliner Using for their CNG-Powered Truck Demonstration?

The Cascadia 113 tour truck is pulling a 53′ trailer, courtesy of Ryder, loaded with approximately 30,000 lbs of cardboard that will be delivered for recycling in Washington, DC. It features a 450 hp, 1450 lb-ft torque Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine, and an Allison 4000HS transmission. During the trip, the truck drivers hauled 30,000 lbs of cardboard from LA to D.C.

What Are the Liabilities For Trucks that Use Natural Gas?

The obvious answer is – the infrastructure isn’t there yet. CNG semi trucks need more energy companies to commit to natural gas fuel pumps for trucks for it to become a viable option. The trucking industry is in a slight recovery, but it may not be in shape to roll out huge amounts of new infrastructure technology for years, maybe a decade.

Hot vs. Cool Fueling – The big debate in long haul trucking revolves around how to fuel semi trucks. Cool fueling uses lower pressures, which means truck drivers get a full tank of fuel, but the fueling takes several hours. “Hot” fueling uses high pressure delivery that fills tanks in a cycle slightly longer than regular liquid fuel fill ups. But the equipment is expensive, hazardous, and will also leave less fuel in the tanks.

Would you drive a natural gas powered semi truck? How much money would it have to save you per month for you to make the switch? We want to know!

This long-haul CNG semi truck project is an example of Freightliner Trucks’ commitment to green technologies, and is part of Daimler AG’s global Shaping Future Transportation initiative. Launched in 2007, the initiative focuses on reducing criteria pollutants, carbon dioxide and fuel consumption. Find out more about these programs at FreightlinerGreen.

See the natural gas powered CNG semi trucks on the road, at the pump and hear what the engineers at Freightliner have to say about the project in this video.

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