Natural Gas Innovation: One Food and Beverage Truck, And Now, One Alternative Fuel

Alternative Fuels / Natural Gas Vehicles, Engine Technology, Fleet Management, Food & Beverage, Sustainability
July 7, 2015

natural gasThe road to natural gas innovation is being traveled today by one refrigerated vehicle using one fuel source. Where most food and beverage natural gas reefer trucks need a separate CNG tank for the engine and diesel tank for the reefer unit, a new vehicle on the market uses only CNG. One truck, one fuel, one tank. This new innovation delivers improved efficiency and cost savings across the supply chain.

Ryder is working with manufacturer partner, Greenkraft Inc., a strategic sustainability innovator that has introduced natural gas solutions for the food and beverage industry and others. For a new Ryder customer in the beverage industry, Greenkraft’s new fully refrigerated vehicles currently rolling into service are now 100% CNG.

In the following Q&A with Frank Ziegler, director of sales and marketing at Greenkraft, we discuss the latest evolution in natural gas vehicle technology and how using a CNG engine-driven refrigeration system delivers similar performance to diesel vehicles, while further reducing diesel consumption and emissions.

Q: Describe your new truck and the innovation that led to it.

A: Calling most food and beverage delivery trucks CNG vehicles can be an oxymoron. People who are proponents of a CNG vehicle cannot run the reefer unit off the engine, but need an external diesel tank. We felt there had to be a way to get to a single fuel solution and keep the product cold enough. What we’ve created now is a truly 100% natural gas vehicle. When it comes into our facility, it’s a gasoline engine. When it leaves, it’s dedicated 100% cab-forward 1795 CNG vehicle.

Q: How is the first wave of these vehicles being deployed?

A: Ryder had a new customer in the beverage industry whose product has to be chilled, but not frozen. Using existing CNG to run the engine and reefer was the perfect application to handle the duty cycle for this niche market. We worked with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to make sure the box itself was designed for dock height that met the customer’s duty cycle and needs, like a roll-out ramp, leaf springs for a three-ton payload, and fuel equivalents for a 300- to 400-mile range, all in a lease clients can utilize for three years.

Q: What benefits can a food and beverage fleet manager hope to achieve with a total natural gas vehicle?

A: As a business operator, you want to set yourself apart from everybody else. You can tell your customer, “We believe in what we’re doing from the ground up.” From an operational standpoint, if you have a competitor running a diesel-based product, your net-net is greater than the competition’s. Drivers and customers will immediately notice the absence of diesel exhaust smell and quieter operations of vehicles. This clearly signals that you’ve made a commitment to the environment. Right out the gate, you’re head and shoulders above the competition. Ryder’s customer wanted all of this from a fleet that’s green with a fuel that’s clean, abundant and offers domestic energy security, fuel savings and stability. Their smile was from ear to ear.

Q: What incentives are available for me to use a CNG vehicle?

A: There’s a host of incentives from organizations like Clean Cities and the California Energy Commission (CEC). Greenkraft is on the commission’s guide to alternative fuel as the only cab-forward provider in our class. From a broader perspective, Ryder actively monitors all grants and incentive programs to assist customers in maximizing the rebates and tax incentives offered across the US.

As Greenkraft has proven, a 100% CNG vehicle can deliver the food and beverage industry predictable fuel costs and government incentives, along with a vehicle tough enough for the necessary duty cycle. Tack on the green stamp of approval, and CNG proponents can be confident in the whole vehicle they put on the road.

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