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Volvo Trucks to introduce LNG-powered models

LNG powered engine

New heavy-duty trucks to offer same performance as diesel but with 20–100% lower CO2 emissions

VOLVO Trucks are to introduce Euro 6-compliant heavy-duty trucks running on either liquefied natural gas or biogas. The new trucks will have the same performance, driveability and fuel consumption as the company’s diesel-powered models, but will produce 20–100% lower CO2 emissions than diesel, depending on the choice of fuel.

The new Volvo FH LNG and Volvo FM LNG trucks will be available with 420hp or 460hp engines for heavy regional and long-haul operations.

‘With our new trucks running on liquefied natural gas or biogas, we can offer an alternative with low climate impact that will also meet high demands on performance, fuel efficiency and operating range. This is a combination that our customers in regional and long haulage require,’ said Lars Mårtensson, director of environment and innovation at Volvo Trucks.

Instead of using an Otto-cycle engine, which is the conventional solution for gas-powered vehicles, the Volvo FH LNG and FM LNG trucks are powered by gas engines that utilize Diesel-cycle technology.

This means that an operator who chooses gas can do so without compromising on driveability, fuel efficiency or reliability. Volvo’s 460hp gas engine delivers maximum torque of 2,300Nm, whilst the 420hp version produces 2,100Nm – the same as Volvo’s corresponding diesel engines. Moreover, fuel consumption is said to be on a par with the diesel engines, but 15–25% lower than for conventional gas engines.

The fuel used is liquefied natural gas (LNG) or biogas, known as bio-LNG, both of which consist of methane. If biogas is used, the climate footprint can shrink by as much as 100%, whilst if natural gas is used, the reduction is 20%.

LNG is the fuel of choice in order to maximize the driving range. This is stored at between 4 and 10 bar pressure at a temperature of –140 to –125°C, and the biggest fuel tank variant can hold sufficient for a range of up to 1,000km (620 miles). Refuelling takes about the same time as filling up with diesel.

When driving, the fuel is warmed up, pressurized and converted into a gas before being injected into the engine. In order to ignite the gas, a tiny quantity of diesel is added at the moment of injection. A 100% reduction in CO2 emissions requires that fossil diesel is replaced with HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oil) and combined with bio-LNG.

Volvo Trucks say they are now working with gas suppliers and customers to develop and expand the LNG infrastructure in Europe. This is receiving political support from many countries and the EU. A strategy for expanding LNG infrastructure is also included in the European Commission and member states’ action packages for securing Europe’s long-term energy supply.

‘Natural gas offers clear climate upsides, it is competitively priced in many countries, and there are sufficient reserves to justify large-scale use,’ said Mr Mårtensson. ‘Our focus on LNG vehicles is creating new prerequisites for our customers to run fuel- and cost-efficient operations. At the same time, were making it possible for heavy truck operations to considerably reduce their climate impact.’

Sales of Volvo FM LNG and FH LNG trucks will start during spring 2018.

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