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Natural Gas Transportation Shows Three Faces: CNG, LNG, RNG

Advances in natural gas transportation this month have shown a split personality, promoting a tripartite look involving liquefied natural gas (LNG), compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable natural gas (RNG).

An Indianapolis-based LNG company has launched a new transportation arm, Kinetrex Energy, to expand what it describes as a national leading LNG production operation and has invested half a million dollars in LNG-powered tractor-trailers.

Kinetrex offers natural gas fuel in the form of LNG, traditional pipeline gas and RNG. "This latest addition to its service offerings showcases the company's confidence in LNG as a clean-burning, reliable, affordable fuel source," said a Kinetrex spokesperson.

In the past, third-party vendors were used to transport LNG to customers from one of Kinetrex’s two Indianapolis liquefaction plants. While Kinetrex will still rely on vendors for some transportation needs, it plans to expand the company's ability to transport fuel using its own tractor-trailers

"It allows Kinetrex to be in complete control of the customer's experience," the spokesperson said. "Each tractor-trailer comes equipped with onboard-computing technology, which allows Kinetrex to closely monitor the effectiveness of LNG."

According to company officials, Kinetrex's two new LNG powered tractor-trailers will be used during peak demand in addition to everyday deliveries. As demand for LNG continues to increase, Kinetrex expects to expand its LNG fleet in the near future.

Kinetrex's growth has emerged in the off-road sector as well. Since late 2016, the company has increased its employee base by 75% and its revenue by 60%.

Meanwhile, in the CNG fueling equipment space, U.S. and New Zealand-based companies have introduced fueling equipment advances that promise to improve the ease of fueling for CNG vehicle operators.

New Zealand-based Oasis Engineering recently released a new fill valve and transit nozzle, and Worthington Industries' alternative fuels unit announced two new CNG fuel system products.

The Oasis fill valve and transit nozzle are designed for a wide range of vehicles, including passenger cars, buses and trucks fueled by CNG or biogas (RNG), according to company officials.

"With intuitive fill valve and nozzle operations, the Oasis full flow fill valve and fueling nozzle redefines the flow rate standard for NGV gas delivery," a company spokesperson said. "Gas is dispensed faster to the vehicle and it is designed to make after-fill removal easier."

The spokesperson added that with a product that can withstand 6000 pounds per square inch of pressure on a daily-basis, stringent testing is required. Oasis performs such testing in its factory.

Worthington's two new CNG fuel system products include an above-frame back-of-cab (AFBC) and next-generation top-of-body system. These additions further expand one of the widest CNG fuel system portfolios in the medium and heavy-duty markets.

"We have worked closely with customers to design systems based on route requirements and preferred truck chassis," said Wayne Powers, general manager of alternative fuels. "By matching the right fuel system and truck application, long-term benefits of CNG conversions are achieved."

The AFBC fuel system relies on Worthington's patented vertical tank design that is positioned to minimize system footprint. It takes up less frame space, sits closer to the cab and requires fewer cylinders to maximize fuel capacity, according to company officials. "Designed for technician safety and straightforward maintenance, all valves are installed at the base of the system, which does not require service techs to leave the ground."

On the RNG front, political, rather than technical, action marked activities this month as the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition) invaded Washington, DC, for a series of 65 meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. RNG advocates underscored the importance of the United States continuing to grow its domestic energy resources, including renewable fuels.

Calling the push in the nation's capital the "2018 RNG Summit," the coalition represented 74 RNG companies and organizations in meetings with various congressional offices to communicate their views about on-the-ground impacts of various federal legislation and regulations, including the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). RNG has represented 95% of the cellulosic biofuel produced under the RFS annually, the coalition noted.

"Federal policies have played a large role in spurring the growth of our nation's advanced and cellulosic biofuel supply," said Johannes Escudero, the RNG Coalition CEO, who added that the RFS continues to lead to more investment in RNG production.

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