Propane aut0gas made the headlines this week as fleets move to lower their fuel costs.  Propane autogas is a mixture of propane and butane. It is the common name in the US for liquefied petroleum gas or LPG. It reduces CO2 emissions by about 35% compared with gasoline and diesel.

Next-Gen Transportation News says fleets in the US Pacific Northwest are shifting to propane vehicles. The City of Edmonds, Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital; the Washington Department of Transportation; and MasterPark (Sea-Tac International Airport’s largest shuttle provider) have all recently deployed propane autogas vehicles in their fleets. Propane autogas fleets are saving $1.50 per gallon or more versus gasoline. The same source tells us in the US state of Colorado a school board has brought in two school buses powered by propane autogas to save $1.85 per gallon in fuel costs. And an airport transportation company in Phoenix, Arizona has just deployed its 75th shuttle powered by propane autogas.

The Sacramento Bee tells us about the LPG vehicle market in Europe. A new report from TechNavio (LPG Vehicle Market in Europe 2011-2015) forecasts annual growth of over 10.5% over the next three years brought about by increased petrol and diesel prices. The biggest challenge facing the growth of these vehicles will be competition from alternative fuel technologies like electric. The major LPG manufacturers in Europe are Fiat, Ford, General Motors and Peugeot Citroen. You can access the report here.

Qatar Airlines hopes natural gas will lower its costs reports the Green PROPHET. Blessed with massive natural gas reserves, the Middle East country and its airline hopes that by rolling out planes run on natural gas it can help keep costs down for the customer and simultaneously reduce its carbon emissions. According to reports last month, Royal Dutch Shell is to pump airline fuel made from natural gas from its gas-to-liquids plant near Qatar Airways’ Doha International Airport, which is to open in 2013. American airlines and Egypt Air are following this development closely as they try to reduce their costs and their carbon footprints.

Next-Gen Transportation News lets us know that Canada’s Bison Transport is deploying 15 heavy-duty trucks in the province of Alberta powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Bison’s has a five-year LNG supply agreement with Shell Canada. The trucks will refuel at public-access Shell LNG facilities in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer. Meanwhile, Truckinginfo says FedEx is testing LNG tractors in Dallas, Texas.

Next-Gen Transportation News notes that the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has an Alternative Fuels Data Center website which provides fleet managers and others with detailed information and strategies related to alt-fuel vehicles, including natural gas. The Petroleum Reduction Planning Tool enables fleet managers to evaluate the transportation-related benefits of natural gas, propane autogas, biodiesel, ethanol and electrification. Charts and tables display annual reductions in petroleum use and fuel costs. You can access the website here.

Forbes posted The Shift To Natural Gas Vehicles Is Happening, Seeking Alpha wrote Amazing News On The Nat Gas Transportation Front and The Fall Of The Electric Car… And The Rise Of The NGV. Others are less convinced and think natural gas vehicles may only be a niche market. Reuters said Shale gas will struggle to impact transport while MLive added CNG vehicles, like electric, to remain a niche market.

A natural gas supplier in the US state of Oklahoma is reducing its rebates for CNG vehicles writes NewsOK. Oklahoma Natural Gas has decided to reduce the amount of rebates toward compressed natural gas vehicles and conversions after seeing stronger-than-expected demand for these incentives. The rebate for a dedicated natural gas vehicle is lowered to $1,000, down from $2,500 in the original program. The rebate for a bi-fueled natural gas vehicle will fall to $500, compared to $1,500. Residential CNG fueling systems will have a $1,000 rebate, down from $2,500. These rebates were introduced last summer and are in addition to state rebates which expire in 2014.

The US state of Pennsylvania will be subsidizing natural gas fleet vehicle purchases by municipalities, authorities, businesses and other groups we learn from The Times Leader. The state will provide $20 million in grants over the next three years which will fund up to half the incremental purchase cost of vehicles that run on natural gas – that is, the difference between the cost of the natural gas vehicle and a comparable gasoline or diesel powered vehicle. Only vehicles over 14,000 pounds – garbage trucks, freight trucks and large vans, for example – are eligible and a minimum of five vehicles must be purchased together.

Truckinginfo says GE and Clean Energy Fuels are expanding the natural gas highway in the US. The two companies have partnered to expand the infrastructure for natural gas transportation by creating a fueling network that will enable trucks to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG) coast to coast and border to border. Clean Energy will initially purchase two ecomagination-qualified MicroLNG plants from GE Oil & Gas. The plug-and-play modular units, which are designed to rapidly liquefy natural gas while minimizing a site’s physical footprint, will support fueling stations along important transportation corridors that run across the U.S. Clean Energy expects to complete 70 LNG stations by the end of this year, with more planned for next year to serve the movement of goods along major transportation corridors throughout the U.S. LNG  is targeted at long-haul, heavy-duty trucks, which will have the advantage of longer driving ranges while not impacting tractor weight and incremental costs. The LNG produced by the MicroLNG plants will be used primarily at Pilot-Flying J truckstops. See also energybiz Truckers May Soon be Stepping on the LNG and Next-Gen Transportation News A Progress Report On Clean Energy’s Natural Gas Refueling Infrastructure Build-Out.

Waste Management has opened a CNG refueling station in Pompano Beach, Florida reports Next-Gen Transportation News.  The station will serve the recycling and refuse company’s vehicles as well as NGVs from other commercial and municipal fleets. “Every truck we replace with natural gas reduces its diesel use by an average of 8,000 gallons per year,” says Tim Hawkins, the company’s Florida area vice president. Waste Management has more than 1,700 NGVs in operation across the US, and the company will have 45 CNG fueling stations in place by the end of this year.

The Wall Street Journal says Americans may soon be able to refill their natural gas vehicles at home. Chesapeake Energy Corp. is working with General Electric and Whirlpool to develop a $500 appliance that will allow compressed natural-gas powered cars to be refueled at their owners’ homes. It is the first attempt at overcoming one of the biggest challenges in putting natural-gas powered cars on the road—convenient refueling. About 112,000 NGVs are now on U.S. roads, mostly delivery trucks and other vehicles with easy access to refueling stations. Auto makers have been slower to offer compressed natural gas-fueled passenger cars and trucks, in part because not enough refueling stations exist to service them on long trips. Chesapeake, a supplier of natural gas, believes that once drivers can refill their CNG vehicles at their homes, automakers will start to produce more CNG passenger vehicles.


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