MR. TRUCK: Natural Gas – Is it the answer for the fuel crisis? Part 3 of 3 |

MR. TRUCK: Natural Gas – Is it the answer for the fuel crisis? Part 3 of 3

Kent SundlingFeeding the CNG hose and heater hose by the firewall back to the CNG tanks.

We used to see refineries burning off natural gas to get it out of the way. Now natural gas will play a major role in American trucking. In California, Clean Truck Programs at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which started last month (Oct. 2008), bans trucks 1988 and older from entering the ports. January 1, 2010, trucks model year 1989-1993 will be banned from port terminals along with unretrofitted 1994-2003 trucks. On January 1, 2012, all trucks must meet 2007 federal clean truck emission standards. Using natural gas in port trucks can reduce greenhouse emissions by 20 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 75 percent.

Sterling is producing for the port a truck powered by a Cummins Westport spark-ignited natural gas engines. (Well maybe not, Daimler just announced the demise of Sterling in March of 2009.) So more than likely Sterling’s big brother, Freightliner will have natural gas trucks for the ports. The extra cost of the NG engines is being covered by grants from California.

Total Transportation Services Inc., a transportation company in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., trucks to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. TTSI is operating eight Kenworth T800 liquified natural gas (LNG) trucks, the first alternative-fuel vehicles to operate in full-time drayage service at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach under the major Clean Trucks Program. Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG is better quality, takes less space for fuel tanks compared to CNG, but takes special insulated tanks for 260 degrees below zero to keep it liquid.

TTS’s eight Kenworth T800s are equipped with the LNG fuel system developed by Westport Innovations Inc. of Vancouver, B.C., and installed on the Cummins ISX 15L engine. The Kenworth T800 LNG Cummins ISX 15L engine has 450-hp and delivers 1,650 lb.-ft. of torque. The Kenworth trucks have Westport’s High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology and use five percent diesel and 95 percent natural gas.

Back to pickup truck natural gas conversions, there are four types of tanks: all-metal or aluminum, hoop-wrapped steel or aluminum, fully-wrapped steel or aluminum, and all composite carbon fiber. Cylinders are stamped with an expiration date when they need recertified, from 15 to 20 years. Most fumigation diesel/cng conversions are for off road use only, as far as emissions certifications on the mechanical system goes.

Deluca states that his new electronic system will be emission compliant. ( Conversions especially for diesels may or may not meet EPA requirements, so be sure to do your own research on the law.

I interviewed a school bus company that tried CNG a decade ago, and in a test trip cross-country, found different CNG fill nipples in each state. They had to wait while the next nipple came to them UPS. Now there are just two nipples at fill stations across the country ” fleet size and public size.

Normal driving, diesel/CNG conversion kits lower boost and EGT’s (exhaust gas temperature), but just like a programmer, drive hard, tow big trailers in the mountains and you can increase EGT heat. More power produces heat. As with engine power modifications, you should add an EGT gauge to your truck with a diesel/CNG conversion.

I’m planning my next horse expo tour trip to Missouri today. I just went on and used their “Trip Planner” and found the CNG fill stations on the way. The new way to travel ” plan your fuel route along with your highway route.

I hope this isn’t the end of the story as we need a national energy plan and CNG has promise.

I still remember when the Alaskan Pipeline was going to save us a few decades ago. Look up sometime where the Alaskan pipeline oil goes…

Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen Web sites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site,

Mr Truck

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