It didn’t take long before Craig Dickman heard something interesting about natural gas in the transportation business here at the CeraWeek energy conference, which kicked off Monday. Dickman’s company, Breakthrough Fuel, helps companies set up fleets for natural gas and other alternative fuels. What got his attention was a description of the Chinese trucking market by Xizhou Zhou, director of China Energy for IHS, the sponsor of CeraWeek. Just four or five years ago, Zhou told his audience of energy executives from around the world, China had virtually zero heavy-duty trucks running on natural gas. Now, he said, there are perhaps as many as 70,000 big rigs running on natural gas, but liquefied natural gas, not the compressed natural gas more commonly used in the United States by operators like the city buses operated by The T, Fort Worth’s local transit operation.
LNG is so much cheaper in China than diesel, Zhou said, that truckers can recover the added cost of using the fuel in less than a year. The transition is aided by between 300 and 400 LNG fueling stations built to supply those trucks. “I think people here will be underestimating, not overestimating, gas in transportation,” Dickman said. Use in the long-haul market has been limited by the lack of a large engine those vehicles use, he said, but a 12-liter version from Cummins expected by August and being adopted by manufacturers should be a big boost. PACCAR, which produces Peterbilt and Kenworth brand trucks at its Denton plant, announced last year that it would use the engine.
For more, see Tuesday's Star-Telegram, and follow Jim Fuquay's continuing coverage of CeraWeek.