A suburb of the US city of Pittsburgh will soon have propane powered school buses says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The local school district will add two buses a year, replacing the more costly diesel-fueled buses now being used.

NGV Global News tells us Shell is introducing a liquified natural gas (LNG) powered barge on the Rhine River in Europe. The Greenstream is a first for the inland marine industry and could be the first of many LNG powered vessels on inland and coastal waters.  The vessel will operate in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.

US railroad, BNSF, will trial LNG locomotives we learn from environmental LEADER. The LNG will replace more expensive diesel. Improved economics and technology make the use of natural gas in long-haul rail service more operationally feasible today, Before LNG can be used by the company for commercial purposes, the company will have to meet several regulatory hurdles including safety considerations.

Several posts this week dealt with the debate among US trucking companies as to the economics of switching over fleets from diesel to natural gas. The companies met at the 2013 Mid-America Trucking Show to make their arguments for and against shifting to natural gas. How the debate turns out could determine whether or not natural gas supplants diesel as a major transportation fuel in North America.

While the price of  natural gas relative to diesel may be low – and drastically so – the cost to acquire and maintain trucks configured to operate on natural gas is high; creating a significant fiscal hurdle for fleets to surmount before their bottom lines can benefit from the cheaper gaseous fuel…The higher up-front sticker price and ongoing maintenance costs for natural gas-powered trucks pose the most immediate fiscal challenge for fleets.

Currently the price of natural gas is between 1/7th and 1/8th the price of diesel.

For more detail about this debate see FleetOwner, Debating the potential for natural gas in trucking; Reuters, Thrifty truckers wary of pricey natural gas vehicles; autoblog, US truck fleets turning towards CNG, LPG; and UPI Energy Resources, Natural gas considered for trucking fuel.

NGV Global News informs us that Russia’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, Gaz Group, will begin mass production of bi-fuel light commercial vehicles, running on gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG) later this year. In Russia presently CNG is selling at about 40% the cost of an equivalent unit of petrol, 47% of diesel and 60% LPG.

Sharjah, one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates, is converting its taxi fleet from petrol to CNG. The Khaleej Times says the plan is to convert 1,600 cabs of Sharjah Taxi to CNG within two years with the remaining 3,200 cabs moving to CNG in 2015,

Chinese energy firm, ENN Group Co. Ltd., is planning on building some 50 natural stations in the US this year.  The stations will be constructed along major highways to supply heavy-duty trucks. ENN currently owns 2 CNG stations in the state of Utah. The People’s Daily says ENN is the first Chinese company to invest in the US natural gas distribution business. The cost of building a CNG station is between $1.5 million and $2 million.  See also CNBC, Chinese Firm Looks to Tap Booming US Natural Gas Market.

National Geographic writes about the new natural gas truck stops for long haul truckers popping up across North America.

From the Jakarta Globe we learn the Indonesian city will have 20 new CNG stations this year funded by the Indonesian government. The stations are part of the government’s efforts to reduce the demand for petrol.




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