Global, European and national climate targets aim for a reduction in vehicle emissions, since all medium and long-term forecasts predict growth in traffic – especially heavy goods traffic. In recent years the effects of improvements in the efficiency of drive systems and fuels have been cancelled out by sharp growth in goods traffic. This has led to annual increases in road traffic related greenhouse gas
emissions. Road traffic is responsible for about 45 % of emissions. In urban areas in particular, air quality suffers from vehicle emissions. A raft of EU initiatives are therefore promoting increased use of natural gas or rather LNG as transport fuels.
The advantages are obvious:
Natural gas is the cheapest and safest way to slash road traffic pollution.
LNG is a tried and tested technology, and refuelling is quick and easy. Since it is ideal for long-haul routes it is perfect for heavy goods vehicles.
LNG is a competitive, clean and affordable alternative to conventional fuels for road haulage.
In establishing LNG as an environmentally friendly fuel for goods vehicles, RAG is making a vital contribution to achieving Austria’s climate targets.
The strict environmental requirements of the Euro 6 emissions standard can easily be met by LNG. In comparison with diesel, emissions of sulphur oxide and fine particulates from vehicles running on LNG are 95 % lower, while nitrogen oxide emissions are over 70 % lower and CO2 emissions up to 15 % lower. Noise emissions from LNG vehicles can be up to 50 % lower than those of diesel vehicles. In other words, LNG already offers an environmentally benign alternative for mobility, and the cost arguments are also on its side. Operating costs are an important factor for road hauliers, and with LNG vehicles fuel costs undercut conventional fuels such as diesel.
RAG opened Austria’s first LNG filling station at Ennshafen port, near Linz, in 2017. The site in Enns has a capacity of 12 tonnes of LNG, enough to refuel between 60 and 90 trucks. RAG delivers natural gas using its own LNG tankers. Some of the gas comes from RAG’s gas fields in Austria, and is processed at the company’s LNG plant in Gampern, Upper Austria. This currently produces about two tonnes of LNG a day for use at the Ennshafen LNG filling station. This is enough to refuel 10-15 LNG-powered trucks a day.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is natural gas that has been converted to a fluid state by cooling it to a temperature of around –160 °C. The expansion ratio of natural gas from liquid to gaseous form is 1:600, meaning that large volumes of energy can be transported and stored as LNG. It can be produced in Austria or transported to customers in specially designed road, barge and sea-going tankers. As well as being easy to transport and store, LNG offers another significant benefit: it is highly economical and efficient. As extremely pure natural gas that consists almost entirely of methane, it has an average gross calorific value of approx. 11.3 kWh per cubic meter of gas.
Environmentally friendly natural gas is an outstandingly economical, safe and clean vehicle fuel, and has been in use in Austria and around the world for decades.
In principle, gas-powered cars work the same way as cars that run on petrol – the petrol engine was actually originally developed for gas. This has many advantages: the technology is mature, and the same engine can run efficiently on either CNG or petrol. The gas is condensed by compressors at the filling station, and stored in pressurised containers.
Natural gas is an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fuels. It takes the form of methane – produced from natural sources, biofuel production or the conversion of renewable solar and wind energy. This means the fuel tank contains either natural gas or compressed natural gas made from natural materials – protecting the environment.
Since natural gas has a high hydrogen and low carbon content, up to 20 % less CO2 arises than with normal petrol. In comparison with diesel, nitrogen oxide emissions are 90 % lower, and in comparison with petrol, 80 % less carbon monoxide is emitted. The main emission produced when burning gas is steam – and vehicles emit virtually no fine particulates. Using CNG vehicles can significantly improve air quality, especially in urban areas.
CNG is also quieter. Natural gas burns more slowly, and therefore more softly, making it only about half as noisy as diesel. With an octane rating of 130, it is also extremely knock-resistant. All in all, vehicles running on natural gas are quieter than those that use petrol or diesel.
It could hardly be easier or safer: filling up is as simple as it is for vehicles running on conventional fuels. However, CNG will not flow if the connection to the car is not correctly made and leak-proof. The process takes roughly the same amount of time as filling up a car with regular fuel. CNG filling stations can now be found throughout Austria, and the network is continually expanding. The country has about 160 stations at the moment – relative to the size of the country, this is the most extensive network in Europe.
RAG has operated public, self-service natural gas filling stations at its sites in Gampern and Kremsmünster, open around the clock, since 2014. This business model will be steadily rolled out across RAG’s exploration and production areas, to give consumers access to environmentally friendly, affordable, locally-produced natural gas as a transport fuel.