Coast-to-Coast Fueling for Natural Gas

Clean Energy Fuels has been hard at work building out a network of natural gas fueling stations along major trucking corridors across the country. The goal is to enable long-haul 18-wheelers to travel coast-to-coast, border-to-border on liquefied natural gas (LNG), a clean-burning and mostly domestic alternative fuel. To supply LNG for these trucks, Clean Energy has completed its initial phase with 70 LNG stations in operation and is moving ahead with another 80 planned for 2013. Many will be co-located at Pilot-Flying J Travel Centers. Pilot-Flying J operates the greatest number of truck stops in the U.S.

Why is this nationwide fueling network important? Truckers could save as much as 25 percent on their fuel bills while cutting CO2 emissions and helping meet the national goal of energy independence. These are three major transportation goals being addressed with a single strategy.

Joining in this effort is GE Oil & Gas, which is supplying its MicroLNG plants to produce LNG from pipeline natural gas. These plug-and-play modular plants can rapidly liquefy natural gas, producing between 50,000 to 250,000 tons-per-year while using a minimum of real estate. This compares to half a million tons, or more, of LNG annually produced by large LNG production plants, usually for international export.

Initially, Clean Energy is purchasing two GE MicroLNG plants that can produce up to 250,000 gallons-per-day, an amount sufficient to fuel about 28,000 heavy-duty trucks. This could displace more than 139,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 7,000 trucks running on diesel fuel.

The two GE MicroLNG plants are planned to begin operation in 2015 at locations yet to be determined. As more fleets adopt LNG and demand for this natural gas fuel increases, plants could be expanded to produce up to a million gallons-per-day. Clean Energy plans to use a standardized design for these MicroLNG plants to facilitate building additional plants in the future.

Beyond applications as part of this nationwide fueling vision, MicroLNG plants can also provide small-scale LNG production for remote industrial and residential use. A MicroLNG plant can liquefy natural gas at any point along a gas distribution network. GE’s Micro LNG plants are also simple to install, operate, and maintain, and can be customized to meet a wide range of needs and site requirements.

Engine and truck manufacturers Cummins-Westport, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Navistar, Freightliner, and Caterpillar are all expected to have engines and Class-8 trucks available to use LNG. In 2013, four of the nation’s major truck manufacturers will offer the Cummins Westport 12-liter ISX12 G LNG engine as an option in long-haul Class 8 trucks.

Compared to compressed natural gas used in light-duty vehicles, LNG provides significantly longer driving range without compromising payload, making use of this fuel a very viable option.