Greening German-Dutch freight traffic with LNG

The final conference that took place on 20 and 21 November in Duisburg, Germany delivered the results of the 4-year LNG PILOTS project. The Dutch-German project focused on the accelerated introduction of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as an alternative fuel for freight transport by road and water in the border region. The conclusion is unequivocal and offers perspective: market parties have become convinced that (Bio) LNG is an effective means of greening heavy transport and carriers are prepared to invest in their fleet to switch to LNG. The ball is now in the market’s court. 

The fact that there is a gain to be made in reducing emissions in the transport of goods is obvious. Only last week the Netherlands’ national statistical office (CBS) published updated figures on emissions from freight transport in the Netherlands. In 2018, the Dutch transport sector emitted 26 billion kilograms of CO2 equivalents in greenhouse gases (GHG). This is 12 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions from the Dutch economy. Within the transport sector, aviation accounts for almost half of GHG (49 percent), followed by waterborne transport (shipping and inland shipping) (26 percent) and road transport (21 percent). 

From differences to understanding
The LNG situation in Germany and the Netherlands differs from each other in terms of regulations, political policy, tax rules and financial policy, among other things. LNG PILOTS mapped out these differences and led to an exchange of knowledge and better mutual understanding: the parties involved were able to connect over time.
The LNG PILOTS project was intended to initiate the construction of an LNG infrastructure in the Netherlands and Germany, create a market and implement technical developments. In the project, companies, knowledge institutes and interest groups carried out analyses for a trimodal infrastructure – heavy freight traffic, inland vessels and industrial applications – in ports and business parks, among others. In addition, logistics concepts for the border area were developed and technical innovations for filling stations and storage were further developed.

The possibilities of Bio-LNG were examined, both in order to arrive at a conclusive business case as well as to bridge the technical challenges ahead. During the project period, GASCOM, DMT and Nordsol developed various concepts for the small-scale flow of gas that are ready to be put on the market. These concepts have been specially developed for small-scale (bio)LNG applications and for decentralized production.

Technological developments
Various technological applications and innovations were mapped out and pushed forward:

. Robotisation of the LNG tank process by Rotec Engineering. 

Robotisation should make refuelling safer. With this application, the driver no longer has to step out of the cabin to refuel manually. The robot is almost ready for the market and the prototype phase is near completion. Market parties have already shown interest in the robot arm to use in their own filling stations. See video (Scroll down)

. Dual Fuel engine by Prins Autogas, HAN and GWI
The latest development is a new catalytic converter that can remove the methane slip for a substantial one: a step closer to the realisation of a dual fuel engine that is allowed on the road. Dual fuel is an intermediate step towards achieving a complete LNG infrastructure. Until a complete LNG infrastructure is put in place, the dual fuel application can bridge the gap in time. The engine can be used on old trucks or as an alternative to the – as yet – high investment of a new LNG truck. 

. LNG tank by Cryolite, Cryovat and Gebr. Beckman
Innovations in the tank allow it to contain more volume of gas and increase the truck’s range. Discussions are currently underway with market parties to take the tank into production.

. Mobile shore-based power supply on LNG by Mobile Power and DST
The parties have developed a mobile shore-based power unit for shipping that can generate electricity on the basis of LNG, which can also produce cold and heat. The unit can be used for several applications, for example to heat and thaw frozen walkways onboard.

. Education and training by De Lauwershorst, STARK Learning and GWI
During the project period, training concepts were developed for transporters and for employees who will be working with the LNG tank technology, both for automated applications and for manual refuelling. See Video (scroll down).

On the way to Bio LNG
Conclusive: LNG PILOTS is a good start to getting the use of LNG further off the ground in the border region. It will now have to be taken up by the market. The road is now largely paved. Eventually Bio LNG will become the main fuel, for now (still fossil) LNG is an intermediate step towards this. The project partners envisage that Bio-LNG will ultimately be one of the fuels in the total mix. It will certainly play an important role for a long period of time, since a large range can be achieved with Bio-LNG – ideal for long distances and for heavy transport.