CNG Trucks: What Are They & Why Are They Important?

With more and more evidence of climate change presenting itself every day, the world is constantly on the lookout for effective and available alternatives to traditional fuel sources. This is especially true here at Matheson. Environmentally responsible carriers are making the switch from fossil fuels to other, more sustainable options. And one of the most promising advances is in the field of CNG.

What is CNG?

CNG stands for compressed natural gas and is an eco-friendly alternative to gasoline. It is produced by compressing methane to less than 1% of its volume and storing it at pressures of up to 36,00 pounds per square inch. Methane is a natural byproduct of decaying organic waste, such as is found at landfills, waste-water treatment plants, and agricultural digesters. The gas is simply captured at these sources, refined, and compressed for use in CNG truck fleets and other compressed natural gas vehicles. 

 

What Are the Benefits of CNG Trucks? 

Compressed natural gas trucks provide a range of advantages, both to businesses and the environment.

Environmental

Perhaps the most widely recognized benefit of CNG is the reduced environmental impact. In terms of production, CNG is much easier to collect and refine than crude oil. It also burns more cleanly than nearly any other burning fuel, reducing carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 97%, producing only carbon dioxide and water vapor in the process. 

Because CNG is a lighter-than-air gas, it doesn’t pool on the ground when spilled, eliminating the risk of contaminating ground-water sources or creating hazardous situations. 

Financial

Of course, the switch to CNG semi-trucks in shipping isn’t only motivated by environmental concerns; CNG is also extremely cost effective. When compared to conventional fuel sources, CNG saves as much as 50%. At the same time, CNG leaves essentially no residue in the vehicle’s engine, leading to fewer costs associated with maintenance and repairs.

And because nearly all natural gas is produced within North America, it remains unaffected by often-volatile foreign-oil supply chains. This means reduced expenses and more accurate cost forecasts for those companies that make the switch to compressed natural gas trucks. 

Safety

There is a myth that, because CNG demands high-pressure storage containers, it’s more dangerous than other fuels. But the truth is that CNG cylinders are significantly more durable than traditional gasoline tanks. These cylinders are made of composite materials, and are stronger than steel. 

And in unlikely the event that a leak occurs, the resultant vapor is much less flammable than gasoline — it has an ignition temperature of about 1200°F, as compared to gasoline which ignites at only 600°F. At the same time, CNG is entirely inflammable at concentrations of less than 5%; as it disperses quickly into the surrounding air, the risk of combustion drops steeply away. Finally, CNG is non toxic, and is not known to produce any physiological effects. 

Performance

Despite the many other advantages offered by compressed natural gas, some transportation businesses hesitate to make the switch, out of fear of decreased performance. But while early CNG engines may not have been as efficient, today’s CNG trucks offer almost identical power, acceleration, and cruising speed as gasoline and diesel engines. And, by improving engine life, CNG helps ensure optimal performance for much longer.

As an added benefit, a CNG semi-truck is capable of operating with 90% less noise than a diesel vehicle of the same size and power.

CNG: Trucks for a Better Tomorrow at Matheson

The world depends on shipping and transportation services, but it also depends on us to make sound environmental decisions. By switching to compressed natural gas alternatives, Matheson helps promote a cleaner trucking solution: reducing our carbon footprint without having to sacrifice performance. With reduced costs and improved safety, CNG is poised to become the favorite fuel source of the new millennium, especially at Matheson Inc.