UK supermarket chain Waitrose has partnered with Swedish truck-maker Scania in order to roll out a fresh fleet of HGVs which are powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) rather than traditional diesel engines, according to New Atlas.
The two main reasons behind this change are that Waitrose wants to make its distribution of goods more fuel-efficient and less environmentally impactful, with the cheaper costs and lower emissions of CNG power trains perfect for these purposes.
The biomethane which fuels the new trucks is stored in a pair of storage tanks on board the trucks, each of which is constructed using carbon fibre. This keeps them light yet strong while also allowing them to cope with significant capacities of CNG for long-distance transport.
When fully filled, it is possible for these tanks to help the trucks cover up to 500 miles before refuelling is required. So there should be no issues in terms of range, especially for the UK-based operations that Waitrose has in mind.
More Environmentally Friendly
The cost-saving potential of these CNG trucks should be obvious when you consider that the biomethane can be 40% more affordable than equivalent volumes of diesel. It also generates 70% less carbon dioxide when it is burned, meaning that harmful emissions are kept to a minimum and global warming is not exacerbated to the same degree as with other HGVs.
The CNG system used on these Scania trucks actually keeps the gas pressurised to a higher level than in other similar systems, which has its own benefits in terms of reducing the amount of space that its taken up by the tanks.
The technology deployed by these trucks is not brand new but has rather been put through its paces in the US. And with the lighter tanks and higher storage pressures, weight savings of around 500kg have been achieved.
A European First
No other trucks in Europe have yet to embrace this system, meaning Waitrose and Scania will be the first to put it through its paces here, establishing whether or not the claims about efficiency, range and cleanliness are actually achievable in real-world driving conditions.
There are additional costs to take into account as a result of the recently developed CNG power train, with these adapted trucks costing 50% more than their standard Scania counterparts. However, with annual fuel savings of up to £20,000 expected once they are put into service, it could take just 36 months for Waitrose to have recouped its initial investment.
Over the anticipated eight-year life of these trucks, up to £100,000 will be shaved off the running costs, while 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide will not have been emitted in the same period. And once they are sold second-hand, yet more businesses will be able to use clean, efficient trucks with cutting-edge technology on board.
These CNG trucks will be joining the fleet focusing on delivering groceries to Waitrose outlets across the northern half of England, meaning they will soon become a common sight in a number of regions.