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Volvo details its “blue power” natural gas strategy

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More and more truck manufactures turn their head towards efficient technologies and recently Volvo decided to design its own 13 liter liquefied natural gas (LNG) engine. The engine will be designed especially for the North American market and according to the press release it will be launched on the market in 2014.

The LNG engine consumes less fuel than the current conventional natural gas powered engines. Moreover, the company is also planning to introduce a clean technology which will run on DME (dimethyl ether) a new fuel that can be produced from natural gas.

Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing declared: “Despite the near-term infrastructure questions regarding widespread adoption of natural gas as a heavy-duty truck fuel, it is clear this segment will grow over the next several years. We’re already delivering factory-built CNG-powered trucks and as the long-haul fueling infrastructure develops, the advanced technology in our new LNG engine will provide increased range and improved fuel efficiency in a seamlessly integrated Volvo powertrain.”

Hit the jump for the press release

Press release:

Blue Power: LNG for the Demanding Long Haul

Through advanced high pressure diesel ignition technology – using trace amounts of diesel to ignite the natural gas – Volvo’s LNG engine will deliver a 30 per cent fuel efficiency improvement compared with spark-ignition (SI) engines, making it a viable alternative for demanding long-haul applications. The Volvo 13-litre LNG engine will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 per cent compared with current diesel products.

The engine will accomplish these savings without sacrificing power, torque or fuel efficiency, all of which are critical attributes for on-road operations. The Volvo Group was the number one supplier of 13-litre heavy-duty engines to the combined U.S. and Canadian market last year and the same vertically integrated approach that has made Volvo a global powertrain leader is being applied to the development of the new engine. The company’s proprietary Volvo I-Shift automated transmission also will be available for customers to specify.

Blue Power: CNG for Closed-Loop and Delivery Applications

North America’s abundant supply of natural gas, and the reduced emissions and minimal aftertreatment CNG engines offer, make the technology an ideal solution for customers operating in localised or closed-loop applications. To meet current demand, Volvo offers the CNG-powered VNM daycab equipped with a factory-installed Cummins ISL G engine.

The company also recently announced that it is operating natural gas-powered VNL demonstrator trucks. The larger, more robust VNL model features a 12-litre Cummins- Westport ISX12 G gas engine. Factory production of the natural gas-powered VNL daycab will begin in conjunction with commercial availability of the 12-litre gas engine in early 2013. These heavy-duty engines feature maintenance-free after-treatment, requiring only a three-way catalyst to meet EPA 2010 emissions standards.

Blue Power: DME Shows Promise in Customer Tests

The Volvo Group has conducted hundreds of thousands of miles of customer field testing of trucks equipped with DME, which can be produced from natural gas. The strong results – from ten vehicles operating in a variety of applications in Europe – indicate DME holds much promise as a heavy-truck fuel, and could become a viable alternative in North America to CNG or LNG when it comes to performance, environmental impact, safety and distribution.

DME mirrors the exceptional performance qualities and energy efficiency of diesel while significantly reducing GHG emissions. It is an excellent compression ignition fuel which, like diesel, requires no separate ignition mechanism. Unlike LNG, it does not require cryogenic temperatures; it is handled like propane, with tank pressures of 75 psi (vs. 3,000 psi for CNG), and it is non-toxic. DME burns with a blue flame and requires no diesel particulate filter. DME packages densely enough to allow long range operation or to allow room for vocational truck equipment on the frame.

“Since we adopted Environmental Care as a core value in 1970s, Volvo has dedicated the resources necessary to lead in alternative fuel technologies,” Huibers said. “We demonstrated in 2007 our ability to run vehicles on seven different fuels and we continue to refine our work with a variety alternative fuels and drivelines. Our comprehensive ‘Blue Power’ strategy – including CNG, LNG, and potentially DME – means we’ll have a complete range of natural gas solutions as the infrastructure develops.”




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