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Biomethane Gaining Acolytes as Diesel Alternative for Truck Fleets

The use of biomethane, or renewable natural gas (RNG), is growing as industries install more onsite plants to produce the alternative fuel for their trucking fleets.

Interest in RNG appears to be gaining momentum worldwide, according to a study by UK-based Aker Associates Ltd. Researchers found more food and drink processing companies are looking to use onsite anaerobic digestion plants at industrial sites.

"The pressure is on both government and business to reduce carbon emissions from transport, which lags behind other sectors in the adoption of renewable fuels," said author Andrew Winship

Biomethane production technology company Clearfleau Ltd., based in England, commissioned Aker to conduct the research regarding the potential growth market for small scale, on-site production as a low carbon alternative in commercial vehicles. Researchers found that the dairy industry is a leading candidate for the production and use of the fuel.

"Using process residues to produce biomethane for transport fuel on factory sites is a perfect example of the circular economy in action," said Clearfleau marketing director Richard Gueterbock. Clearfleau has mainly used biogas produced from combined heat-power (CHP) units.

Aker reported there are more than 26,000 natural gas vehicle (NGV) fueling stations and more than 22.3 million NGVs operating worldwide, mostly outside of North America. About 86 countries now have NGVs operating.

Another global giant in the space, Italy’s Landi Renzo, this month said it was stepping up its alternative transportation marketing push in the United States and may add equipment for propane-powered vehicles.

Landi Renzo USA’s Paul Shaffer, executive vice president for marketing development, said the company remains focused on gaseous fuels but it is investigating electrified vehicles, including hybrid-electric drivelines that the company has been researching since 2010. Three years ago the company opened research and development center in Reggio, Italy.

Meanwhile, on the compressed natural gas (CNG) technology front, Oasis Engineering has introduced fueling nozzles designed to increase flow rates and ease their use and serviceability. CNG fueling technology remains an active area for technological developments.

According to Oasis, the new dispensing nozzles are suitable for CNG and biogas applications for vehicle fueling.

Meanwhile, in the Mexican border town of Juarez, near El Paso, TX, 37 CNG-powered patrol vehicles have been added to the municipal fleet. Other NGVs were added earlier this year, including 18 pickup trucks in May and 50 in June.

Mexico City is hosting an alternate fuels conference, Altfuels Mexico 2018, next April.

In the United States, the Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office said $19.4 million has been awarded for 22 projects to research advanced batteries, materials, engine and energy efficiency technologies. The grants went to researchers at universities and private sector companies.

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