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Putting LNG on the road

C.R. England is operating liquefied natural gas-powered tractors as part of a wide range of environmental and sustainability initiatives.

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To say that C.R. England is committed to sustainability at every turn would be both true and an understatement. Across its operation, the well-known truckload carrier is using its vast resources and experience to continually find ways to conserve energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

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Among C.R. England’s latest projects is the deployment of five LNG-powered tractors in its England Dedicated operation, a contract carriage and transportation management business unit. The fleet of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tractors went into service in October 2011, and currently is in use at the company’s Ontario, Calif., facility.

“LNG power was one area where we hadn’t yet fully investigated greener transportation options,” says Tracy Brown, director—England Dedicated. “Abundant in North America, LNG is a non-toxic, environmentally-friendly fossil fuel that emits up to 30% less greenhouse gas than diesel, so it made sense to test LNG engines in a group of tractors in our fleet and evaluate their potential for the future in different parts of the C.R. England operation.”
tracy brown, director
Initially, Brown reports, the Kenworth T800 tractors with 15-liter, 450 HP Westport GX engines were operated in southern California so drivers could get used to them and the fueling procedures they require. Over time, they were assigned to longer routes. Today, on regular hauls to Las Vegas and back, each tractor averages 2,500 miles per week.

Determining factors
“Our drivers are sold on the LNG tractors, which provide plenty of power on hills and are quieter than comparable diesels, but we’re still in the testing phase,” Brown cautions. “We expect to have enough data and have it analyzed by the fourth quarter of this year.

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“We understood from the start,” Brown adds, “that the price difference between LNG and diesel and the number of miles we could run these tractors would be factors in determining whether their higher cost was justified.”

Also part of the process of deploying LNG-powered tractors at England Dedicated was ensuring that a fueling infrastructure was in place. “Southern California made sense because natural gas fueling facilities were accessible,” Brown says. “Our desire was always to use these tractors on our Las Vegas lane, but initially we found ourselves ahead of the infrastructure’s development.”

In January 2012, a new Clean Energy fueling station in Las Vegas provided the fuel source England Dedicated needed for its California-based LNG vehicles. The facility is part of a model natural gas-fueled corridor that includes publicly accessible LNG refueling stations stretching from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.

Partner capability
The C.R. England Dedicated LNG tractor pilot project is operating under a full-service lease agreement with PACCAR Leasing (PacLease). “We opted to lease these trucks primarily because of the new engine technology,” Brown explains. “It’s our first experience with LNG engines, so we wanted to partner with a company that had the capability to service these vehicles, and facilities along the routes we planned to operate them. PacLease had already worked with the engine manufacturer to ensure its technicians were properly trained, so a lease agreement made the most sense to us.”

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C.R. England LNG tractor specs
Model: Kenworth T800 Day Cab
Wheelbase: 185 in.
Engine: Westport GX; 450 HP 1,650 ft.-lb.
Clutch: Eaton Solo, 15-1/2 in.
Transmission: Eaton Fuller, 10 -speed manual
Driveshafts: Spicer SPL 250 XL
Front Axle: Dana Spicer E-1322W, 13,200-lb.
Front Suspension: taperleaf
Power Steering: TRW TAS 65
Rear Axle: Dana Spicer DSP 40, 40,000-lb.
Rear Suspension: Kenworth Airglide 400L
Brakes: Bendix ES
ABS: Bendix
Wheels: 7-spoke aluminum
Tires: Bridgestone 295/75 R 22.5; R280 steer, M720FE drive
5th Wheel: SAF Holland FW 17
Air Dryer: Bendix AD-IS
Air Cleaners: PowerCore
Batteries: PACCAR
Starter: PACCAR
Alternator: PACCAR, 130-amp
Lighting: Truck-Lite LED
Fuel Tank: 120-gal. equivalent LNG

C.R. England has taken other steps to create a greener fleet. The company continually tests new products to ensure it’s using the most sustainable products possible. These include using aluminum wheels and ultra lightweight day cabs for short haul applications that help boost carrying capacity and reduce fuel consumption. Also, Webasto auxiliary bunk heaters, aerodynamic packages on tractors complemented by trailer side skirts, and lower rolling resistance tires, including some wide-base singles, all contribute to fuel savings.

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Other practices and programs aimed at reducing emissions and fuel consumption are being employed at England, as well. For example, the carrier cites no-idle and idle reduction policies that can yield a 17% reduction in a single year. The company also has implemented a speed reduction policy that has dramatically improved MPG, along with instructing drivers on fuel-efficient operating techniques. From an operations standpoint, eliminating empty and out-of-route miles, plus improved utilization of equipment, also are in place.

Recognizing performance
A participant in the SmartWay Transport Partnership since 2005, C.R. England has been recognized for its environmental performance with the Environmental Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Founded in 1920 and family-owned and operated for four generations, C.R. England serves customers through its England North America Division, which provides long-haul, over-the-road, and regional freight service, through England Dedicated and its England Mexico, England Logistics and England Refrigerated Intermodal businesses. The Salt Lake City-based company operates 4,200 late model Freightliner, International, Volvo, Kenworth and Peterbilt tractors, and 7,200 Utility and Great Dane trailers.

“We’re doing everything we can to decrease our dependency on diesel fuel and to look for alternatives to deliver loads efficiently,” Brown states. “LNG tractors are one of the latest steps we’re taking to achieve those goals.”

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