|Engine installation D13C-gas. Click to enlarge.|
Volvo Trucks is expanding its alternative fuel program with the launch of the new dual-fuel Volvo FM MethaneDiesel. This makes Volvo the first truck manufacturer in Europe to offer gas-powered regional distribution trucks that can also meet long-haul application requirements.
In 2010, Volvo Powertrain signed a 5-year supply agreement with Clean Air Power Ltd., a developer of dual-fuel technology. (Earlier post.) The new Volvo FM MethaneDiesel is offered with a 13-liter engine producing 460 hp (343 kW) and 2,300 N·m (1,696 lb-ft) of torque. The fuel consists of up to 75% liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the rest diesel, but this proportion may vary depending on how the vehicle is used.
|By-pass throttle and gas injector. Click to enlarge.|
Compared with conventional gas-powered engines where the fuel is ignited by spark plugs, the methane-diesel alternative offers 30 to 40% higher efficiency, with a concomitant decrease in fuel consumption of 25%. If the truck runs on biogas, emissions of carbon dioxide can be cut by up to 70% compared with a conventional diesel engine.
The Volvo FM MethaneDiesel is based on a regular diesel engine equipped with gas injectors, a cryogenic LNG tank, and a specially configured catalytic converter. The use of LNG gives the methane-diesel truck a greater operating range compared with traditional gas trucks that use spark-plug technology. The tank holds enough gas for a range of up to 500 kilometers (311 miles) in normal driving for a truck with a gross combination weight of 40 tonnes.
Volvo Trucks’ field tests (earlier post) show that methane-diesel technology offers the same high operating reliability as a regular diesel engine. Driveability is roughly the same as for a conventional diesel-powered truck. If the gas runs out, the system switches automatically to diesel power. The driver is notified via a control lamp in the instrument panel.
Series production of the Volvo FM MethaneDiesel begins in August; the model can be ordered today, although only in limited numbers. First off the mark are the Netherlands, Britain and Sweden, where the infrastructure for liquefied methane gas is best established. Plans are currently under way for building about 100 methane-diesel trucks in 2011.
By using liquefied methane gas in an efficient diesel engine, we are making it possible to use gas-powered trucks in heavier and more long-distance transport applications. We are the first truck manufacturer in Europe to do so.
If development proceeds as we hope, we expect to be selling about 400 methane-diesel trucks a year in the next couple of years. By then sales will hopefully have expanded to six or eight markets in Europe. Future sales are naturally highly dependent on expansion of liquefied gas refuelling stations for heavy commercial vehicles in Europe.—Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks’ Europe Division