NACFE: natural gas can reduce GHG emissions

NACFE: natural gas can reduce GHG emissions

Natural gas may help cut trucking industry emissions, according to NACFE, but you need to weigh your options before making the switch.

Trucking companies, and the companies that develop the technology that moves them, are in a race toward zero emissions. While getting to “zero” is a long road, natural gas may be a good stop along the way. Buy how effective is natural gas a heavy-duty fuel option, in terms of combatting climate change? As part of its recent natural gas confidence report, the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) says natural gas has potential to help reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to NACFE, natural gas also has advantages when it comes to reducing the more immediate and local health effects caused by air pollutants like Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM).

Though natural gas ICE technology has been around for decades, NACFE says there’s renewed interest in using it in transportation, noting that it is a lower-carbon fuel than diesel and is cleaner burning. Another big advent that’s bolstering interest, according to NACFE, is Cummins’ new X15N, the first fuel-agnostic version of the company’s next generation 15-liter engine. In the past few years, the ability to to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) has grown significantly, which NACFE says is spurring more interest in it. When made from animal waste, RNG can have a negative carbon intensity.

Considerations before making the switch

As with any major switch, there are many financial considerations that fleets need to take into account when looking at natural gas. NAFE suggests that fleets compare natural gas to diesel and other alternatives, including battery electric, from a variety of standpoints, adding that it takes 5-10 years for fleets to see payback from their investment in natural gas vehicles and infrastructure. During that time, NACFE believes we’ll see significant improvements in battery electric vehicles that could benefit fleets. The organization says if you use up your funds to in natural gas, you may not be able to take advantage of any new battery electric benefits.

“We see natural gas as part of the trucking industry’s ‘messy middle,‘ and as with all powertrain technologies currently available, natural gas powertrains should only be put into use in duty cycles where they make sense,” said Mike Roeth, executive director of NACFE. “We are currently in a time where there is no one-size-fits-all powertrain option for every fleet in every application given the increased focus on decarbonizing trucking.”

NACFE hopes fleets weighing natural gas powertrains will use the information in its confidence report and analyze both the benefits and the challenges before, making a decision.

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