The NGVOK Conference, co-presented alongside the Pipeline and Energy Expo at Tulsa’s Cox Business Center, offered attendees a width swath of information to take in. Attendees were offered the opportunity to see the latest developments in CNG technology, network with business professionals leading that charge, and discuss the obstacles and advancements shaping the industry each day.
On Wednesday, the third and final day of the conference, panels offered throughout the day allowed experts to discuss the topics they were passionate about and simultaneously inform other industry players. One such panel, “Heavy Duty” focused on the role of CNG as fuel for heavy duty industrial vehicles, including those used in the shipping industry.
Moderated by Adriane Jaynes with Tulsa Clean Cities, and featuring speakers Dennis Fry with First Vehicle Service and Dwight Hanson with Xperion, the panel discussed the changes in CNG technology that have shifted it from a second-best choice to LNG for heavy duty trucking to the premiere choice in alternative fuels.
Hanson discussed how the weight of CNG made it initially prohibitive as a fuel for the trucking industry, where every additional pound of fuel meant one less pound of freight.
“Why would you pay to ship cylinders,” Hanson said. “Originally, you were going to have to take freight off your vehicle to use CNG.”
As the tank weight dropped, the viability of CNG increased.
“Every customer I know that started with LNG has switched to CNG,” Hanson said.
In the time it’s taken for those improvements, Hanson referenced the last five years, the cost has also greatly decreased, making it more viable for a greater number of companies.
Fry echoed that statement, talking about the growing adoption of CNG, and how the increase in storage capacity has added to that widespread adoption.
“Now you can pretty much run CNG on any application. With CNG, capacity is your range. As long as you want to spend the money and put the capacity on your vehicle, you can drive longer than you can legally drive (as a truck driver.)
The panel acknowledged the remaining shortcomings of CNG compared to LNG, best highlighted by the speed of fueling.
“Where CNG hits home runs,” Hanson said, “is where you don’t need fast fueling. You can’t fill a CNG truck as fast as an LNG truck. But the best applications are transit and refuse. Refuse is great because they can fill overnight. It’s a slow fill, so you wait until the power demand charges go down and kick the pumps on.”
The panel agreed it remained one of the last hurdles to wider adoption, but as with the other obstacles, it was something likely to see new approaches in the years ahead.
The panel wrapped with audience questions and discussions. Several in the crowd shared their own experience with CNG, touching on cost, installation, and regulatory hurdles.