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CNG to the Nation's Trucks, with Love's

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Reprinted with permission; Fleets & Fuels, Nov. 25, 2013 edition

CNG to the Nation's Trucks, with Love's

by Rich Piellisch, Editor, Fleets & Fuels

Trials with Its Own Trucks Led to National Public Access Plan

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores mounted an impressive display at the North American natural gas vehicles show in Atlanta last week. The Love’s display was dominated by a large striking map indicating the firm’s aggressive plan for a nationwide network of CNG fueling stations.

Love's Class 8 transport

Love's started with its own CNG-powered Gemini Motor Transport tractors, many of which haul conventional
fuels – before branching to retail CNG sales.

“We were excited to unveil our map, that shows 91% of our network is available for fast-fill CNG, which is approximately 225 stations and growing,” said Love’s natural gas GM Bill Cashmareck. “As the demand for natural gas continues to grow, Love’s is committed to being the leading solution provider for America’s trucks,” he told F&F – ”regardless of fuel preference.”

Love’s, which overall boasts more than 300 locations in “39 states and counting,” tested CNG on its own fleet of Gemini Motor Transport tractor trailers before embarking on its campaign for CNG sales to truckers.

Gemini hauls fuel to 300 retail locations in 39 states, and has purchased 25 new Freightliner and 25 new Peterbilt trucks powered by 400-horsepower ISX12 G engines from Cummins Westport. Gemini tested a 350-horsepower beta version of 11.9-liter engine for a year prior to making the fleet purchase decision.

ANGI, Ariel, Xebec, Gilbarco-Kraus

The firm’s basic message in Atlanta was that CNG is generally easier to handle than LNG, and is about a $1.00 per equivalent gallon cheaper. CNG also allows Love’s to offer “an integrated in-lane solution” at its existing travel centers, says Houston-based Sam Crites, natural gas marketing manager for Love’s.

LNG requires a separate fueling island, but for CNG, “We are extending the diesel island and just putting a new dispenser there,” Crites told F&F. Love’s is using ANGI packaging and controls, he says, for CNG installations with Ariel compressors with Xebec dryers, and Kraus-modified Gilbarco dispensers. All popular data-capture cards are accepted.

Love's CNG map locations

Love's sees the possibility of competitive retail CNG wherever there is natural gas pipeline service to support compression stations.

Crites and other Love’s staff were prepared to talk plenty of detail with the clean transportation professionals at the Atlanta show. Among the salient issues are

  • Financial Considerations – natural gas truck operating inefficiencies like reduction in fuel economy, out-of-route miles, payload loss from additional truck weight, LNG fuel loss from venting, and unknown risks in truck salvage value “are rarely discussed,” Love’s says.
  • Fuel Fill Times – Fill times of 12 equivalent gallons or more per minute can be achieved with both CNG and LNG, although CNG may take some more elaborate engineering.
  • Fuel Cost Difference – “CNG and LNG have different cost structures,” Love’s says: “As a rule of thumb: CNG costs roughly $2.00 less than a gallon equivalent of diesel, while LNG costs $1.00 less than diesel.”
  • Range Considerations – Better with LNG, although CNG can be competitive.
  • Weight Considerations – Weight penalties for natural gas systems are far more severe with CNG than LNG – though both can be somewhat ameliorated by the removal of diesel equipment, such as DEF tanks for SCR.
  • Maintenance Considerations – “Upgrading existing maintenance facilities to service natural gas vehicles is an expensive process,” notes the Love’s white paper summary. “Until all areas of the country have sufficient availability of upgraded facilities, regional CNG truckers will have more reliable maintenance support than will over-the-road users.”

Love’s also notes in the NGV white paper that it began providing natural gas fueling for light and medium duty vehicles in 2010. Love’s first heavy duty CNG station, specifically for Class 8 vehicles was built in Oklahoma City in 2012. This year the firm announced plans to build nine new heavy duty CNG stations – one in Oklahoma City and eight across San Antonio, Houston and Dallas (the Texas Triangle).

 

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