Published On: Wed, Nov 21st, 2018

Natural Gas: An Alternative to Diesel for the American Trucking Industry

Reducing Emissions by Making the Switch

Natural gas is an abundant resource available throughout the United States. This hydrocarbon gas mixture, is mostly composed of methane that is taken from natural rock found deep beneath the earth’s surface. Although natural gas is available throughout North America, the trucking industry has not yet realized the full potential of this resource. The fleet industry is an extremely important aspect of the American economy. Everything from grocery products to mail shipments are delivered via truck. With so many trucks on American roads, the environmental and economic costs of fueling these vehicles are astronomical. Additionally, American reliance on foreign fuel impacts national energy safety. Currently, the trucking industry uses nearly 54 billion gallons of diesel per year. At more than $4 a gallon, the cost of diesel fuel is substantial. In addition, diesel fuel contains harmful and carcinogenic pollutants. 

photo/ sandid via pixabay

In an effort to address the high economic and environmental cost of foreign fuel, the U.S. Energy Security Leadership Council was formed. The council concluded domestic sources of fuel are desperately needed. These domestic sources are needed to reduce dependency on foreign oil, decrease the consumption of energy, and ensure that America has alternatives to importing petroleum products. The trucking industry is one of the largest users of imported petroleum. As such, it should be actively pursuing the utilization of domestic sources of fuel.

The council has asserted that the use of natural gas may offer a solution to the aforementioned problems. The use of natural gas is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • The United States has a significant supply of natural gas. In fact, nearly 90% of the natural gas America consumes is found in the United States.
  • Natural Gas is less expensive. On average natural gas is less than half the cost of diesel. 
  • As a fuel source, natural gas is a cleaner alternative. Vehicles using natural gas have reduced emissions of particulate matter, carcinogens, and carbon dioxide.
  • The use of natural gas in the trucking industry would greatly reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. 

Although there are many valid reasons for the use of natural gas in the trucking industry, there is one significant drawback. Namely, the escape of methane gas. Methane gas is more harmful to the environment than emissions from diesel fuel. With this in mind, more research has to be done concerning the amount of methane gas that escapes during the operation of vehicles and during refueling. Although this alternative fuel could have positive outcomes for the trucking industry, it must be carefully considered before being implemented. The environmental impact of extracting and using natural gas must outweigh the economic benefits of utilizing natural gas instead of diesel. 

Overall, the use of natural gas in the trucking industry is a promising solution to a complex problem and could increase fleet efficiency. If methane leaks can be reduced to an acceptable level, the trucking industry will realize real environmental and economic benefits through the use of natural gas. In addition, the use of natural gas will lead to greater energy security for the United States. Comprehensive research must be conducted to make the widespread use of natural gas a reality in the trucking industry. Whatever further research might discover, natural gas as an alternative to diesel is an extremely important development. 

Author: Chad Brown
Bio – Mr. Brown has worked in the new home construction marketplace for over 30 years both as a contractor and project manager.

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