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Truckers Hitching their Rigs to Natural Gas

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Trucking fleets are converting in droves from diesel fuel to natural gas, said John Hausladen, CEO of the Minnesota Trucking Association, which hosts a related summit Thursday at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

Natural gas is plentiful, up to $2 cheaper per gallon than diesel fuel and manufacturers are collaborating on heavy-duty engines that can power big rigs, Hausladen said.

"New natural gas engines are more expensive but the difference in price can be paid back in a couple of years or less," he said. "We're seeing the fueling network being built out."

Moreover, it's cleaner-burning and cuts carbon-dioxide and other emissions.

Thursday's meeting will include experts from Kwik Trip, Dart Transit, natural-gas distributor Clean Energy Fuels, engine manufacturer Cummins Westport and truck makers Volvo and Daimler.

Convenience store chain Kwik Trip, which has converted 50 of its 350 light-duty and semitrailer trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), has added natural gas pumps at 17 of its 430 fueling stations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. More are on the way.

Joel Hirschboeck, superintendent of alternative fuels at Kwik Trip, said the company has ordered 35 new semitrailer trucks that will run on natural gas.

"We're no longer purchasing diesel-fueled trucks, and we're transitioning our fleet to natural gas," he said. "Its cost and environmental benefits ... natural gas is a domestic, cleaner-burning fuel."

Recently, Phoenix-based Republic Services added 23 CNG solid waste and recycling trucks to its Twin Cities fleet, replacing older, diesel-powered trucks.

Republic, which also installed a local natural gas fueling station, projects that each new CNG-fueled truck reduces ozone-forming emissions by as much as 80 percent when compared to older diesel-powered trucks. Republic operates a fleet of more than 1,400 CNG vehicles and 26 natural gas fueling stations nationwide.

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Guest Friday, 22 September 2017

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