Volvo Trucks start field tests of methane-diesel engines

Volvo trucks has announced new field tests of bi-fuel methane-diesel engines in partnership with seven different Swedish companies, adding a new technology to the brand's at-fuel tests with DME and hybrid engines. The new engines, which are based on the Euro-V compliant 7-liter model, reduce fuel consumption by 25 percent compared to standard diesels thanks to methane's lean combustion. The system still uses a small amount of diesel fuel which is injected and ignited by the compression, which in turn ignites the methane gas/air mixture. This saves wear and tear on the spark plugs and allows Volvo to reuse the current emission systems, saving costs. Using methane also guarantees that these trucks keep the same usability as other versions. Methane, or natural gas, can also be obtained from renewable sources. Full press release after the jump.

[Source: Volvo Trucks]



In February, Volvo Trucks will be starting field tests of methane-diesel engines in commercial operation together with a number of Swedish customers.

"We are doing this so as to offer the market a superior combination of environmental properties, energy efficiency, driveability and low maintenance costs," says Gunnar Ekwall, product manager for Volvo Trucks in the Nordic region.

The first seven customers participating in the field test are Borås Energi & Miljö, Ragn-Sells Sollentuna, Schenker-TGM Göteborg, Slaka Potatis Linköping, Svebol Logistics/Lidl Tumba, Viebke Åkeri Helsingborg and XR Miljöhantering Skövde. The eighth truck in the field test programme will be placed with a selected customer in the next few days.

The trucks involved are two Volvo 7-litre models, the Volvo FL and Volvo FE.

Increasing demand for better gas powered trucks
As the network of biogas stations continues to expand, the market is showing far greater interest in better gas-powered vehicles. With the unique technology that Volvo Trucks has chosen, the diesel engine runs on a mixture of methane gas and diesel oil. As a result, the benefits of gas power are combined with a diesel engine's estimated 35 per cent higher efficiency rating compared with an engine using spark plug ignition. The truck thus consumes far less energy than conventional gas-powered trucks.

Energy-efficiency and reliability
"In addition to lower fuel consumption, methane diesel technology also brings higher reliability and lower maintenance costs. What is more, the driver can always continue driving on diesel fuel alone, if no gas is available. This makes it a practical and realistic alternative for many customers, especially in areas where the gas distribution infrastructure is not yet fully established," explains Gunnar Ekwall.

How Volvo Trucks' FL/FE gas powered trucks work
  • The solution is based on Volvo's proven, reliable Euro-5 diesel engines. When the engines are converted for gas operation, special tanks are added for pressurised methane gas (CNG/CBG). In addition, a separate fuel system is added with gas injectors in the inlet manifold. The trucks are converted for methane-diesel power in co-operation with Stadspartner using Hardstaff technology.
  • A small amount of diesel is injected and ignited by the compression, which in turn ignites the methane gas/air mixture. This saves the need for a spark plug and allows Volvo to make full use of the efficient diesel technology. As a result, the power and driveability are identical to that of a conventional diesel truck.
  • The amount of diesel required during operation varies, but Volvo Trucks aims to minimise the proportion of diesel.

Volvo Trucks' technology for methane gas + diesel - summary of strengths:
  • Volvo Trucks is the first manufacturer to run efficient diesel engines on gas at Euro 5 levels
  • Approximately 25 per cent lower energy consumption compared to traditional gas operation.
  • Same power and driveability as conventional diesel trucks.
  • Using two fuels makes it possible to continue the journey using only diesel if the gas runs out - a useful feature until a gas distribution network is fully developed.
  • The engine's high efficiency rating, combined with the option of using liquid gas tanks, makes the technology a realistic option for long-haul operations.

Facts about methane gas:

Both natural gas and biogas consist of methane. The difference is that natural gas is a fossil fuel, whereas biogas is produced from biodegradable material such as waste

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