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Renewable Natural Gas Growing Importance in Trash Hauling, Trucking and Transit

Renewable Natural Gas Growing Importance in Trash Hauling, Trucking and Transit

While the Biden administration touts the “electrification” of America’s transportation industry, numerous companies are saying “slow down.”

For example, trash haulers, trucking fleets and transit companies believe there’s another way, a proven pollution reducer that stacks up well against diesel fuel.

While the source for natural gas is changing – with its own emissions trail becoming fainter due to technological improvements – don’t discount gas.

Compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and increasingly renewable natural gas (RNG) have been used to power vehicles in some cases for decades.

With RNG produced from landfills, food and animal waste, and wastewater, product sources are infinite, and costs continue to fall, in some cases less than 50 cents per gallon, all in costs included.

“There is a definite shift to RNG,” according to Dan Gage, president of The Transport Project, known prior to this week as NGV America. “In 2022, 69% of all natural gas fuel was from renewables.”

Gage will be one of the presenters at Renewable Natural Gas Conference III, slated for Thursday, April 18, at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh-Southpointe, just south of Pittsburgh. The all-day program is produced by the H2-CCS Network and Shale Directories.

The Transport Project and the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas reported that in 2022, 663 million gallons of gas-equivalent (GGE) of natural gas were used as motor fuel. Of that, 457 million GGE were from renewable sources.

Leading the way with utilizing RNG are three huge fuel users. “We call them the three T’s: trash haulers, trucks and transit vehicles,” Gage said.

RNG can produce carbon-negative results when fueling on-road vehicles like short- and long-haul trucks, transit buses, and refuse and recycling collection vehicles.

Decarbonization would be accomplished through the increased use of gaseous motor fuels, including RNG and hydrogen.

“We’re trying to build out trucking fleets to use RNG,” Gage said. “We have to convince owners this switch makes economic sense.”

Gage said convincing owners operating Class 7 and 8 trucks (the “big rigs”) was difficult until recently, when engine maker Cummins introduced its latest 15-liter engine model.

“Early tests of the lighter 15-liter show it’s more fuel-efficient than diesel, but it is pricier, two to three times more expensive.”

Still, once the upfront costs are paid, overall operating costs for the Cummins 15-liter engine are lower than the same-sized diesel.

The Transport Project/NGV America, an offshoot of the American Gas Association, was founded roughly 35 years ago. One of the organization’s biggest proponents was a former wildcatter named T. Boone Pickens. NGV America on April 8 officially became The Transport Project.

The organization is a national coalition of roughly 200 fleets, vehicle and engine manufacturers, servicers, suppliers, and fuel producers/providers dedicated to the decarbonization of North America’s transportation sector.