On-road GHG Assessment of Liquefied Natural Gas Engine Adoption in the Heavy Duty Trucking Industry

Focus Area

Air Quality


Air Quality




Under $99k


Under 1 year

Research Idea Scope

Introduction – The medium and heavy duty trucking industry sector could be responsible for 300-400 million metric tons of CO2 by 2030 (World Resource Institute).  The same sector currently accounts for over 25% of U.S. fuel consumption (National Research Council).  Tight diesel fuel supplies in the global marketplace may cause diesel to move well beyond $4 a gallon and may incrementally lap gasoline fuel increases.  These tight supply parameters currently exist due to geopolitical influences in the world:

  • Decreased Libyan production is affecting European refineries
  • U.S. refiners are picking up the slacks raising prices in the U.S.
  • Japan’s situation has lowered its export capabilities- Asian recipients of Japanese production have had to purchase elsewhere
  • General global prosperity growth and the subsequent pressures on all commodities

In addition, the ever-changing geopolitical energy landscape, ever-rising fuel cost for truckers, available federal research dollars and the growing acceptance of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an engine option has created an opportunity for trucking fleets to more widely begin using LNG.  The current LNG cost per gallon is about $1.50 less than diesel.  Extrapolated over hundreds of thousands of miles truck fleets travel each year this amounts to real savings.  This is even accounting for the cost of LNG engine installation into the fleet.  

Research is needed to understand the relative environmental and air quality impacts of widespread trucking industry LNG engine adoption and the subsequent network rollout of LNG fueling stations.  This is especially true since LNG/CNG and alternate fuel technology and regulation adoption is underway:

  • Vedder Transport’s (Canada) network of LNG fueling stations
  • Ryder’s heavy duty LNG and CNG truck project with SANBAG
  • Tighter shipping port’s emission standards for mobile sources
  • Pepsi’s Frito Lay unit (7th largest private delivery fleet) medium duty electric truck project
  • SmartWay Transport Partnership
  • The evolution of on-road GHG analytics (i.e. MOVES database and EPA Tier 4)   

Objective – The main objective of this research is to produce an environmental and air quality impact study that examines the adoption of LNG engine technology in the heavy duty trucking industry and the subsequent implications of rolling out the LNG fueling station infrastructure. 

Methods and Analysis – The first step of this research will be the determination of the specific trucking industry LNG assessment criteria benefits, costs and risks in terms of the way this new engine technology paradigm would interact with the traditional heavy duty diesel fleets and the existing nationwide network of fueling stations.  This will be followed by the development of new and novel engineering metrics in connection with input-output cost modeling characteristics and the latest on-road GHG analytics.  Thirdly, will be the determination of the decision variables, including the technical, financial, and legal constraints.  Finally, it will build upon NCHRP 25-25 material, other appropriate AASHTO Standing Committee on the Environment research and the extensive literature material our company has already conducted in connection with our expertise in the transportation sector.

Related Research (Added by TERI Administrator, April, 2011):
Liquefied Natural Gas Engine Adoption in the Heavy Duty Trucking Industry; National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1997

Urgency and Payoff

Significance of this research derives from the environmental and air quality impact study that measurably improves LNG engine and LNG fueling station environmental impact analysis and understanding.  The study’s solutions will recommend optimum levels of environmental decision making and risk management assessment tools to both the trucking industry and relevant regulatory and decision making bodies – especially beneficial in light of current and future regulatory requirements in connection with truck fleet fuel standards and EPA mobile source requirements.  Secondly, it should greatly contribute to the transportation portion of next generation SIP, DOT and green supply chain transportation planning.  Thirdly, it should fill transportation system management (TSM) information gaps in relation to LNG engine adoption.

This research will utilize one principal investigator and at least one senior transportation engineer.  Using National Science Foundation grant proposal submission parameters as a guide and Antimony Green’s general & administrative overhead rate we propose a budget of $67,000 and estimate the research can be completed in less than one year. 

Suggested By

Steven Olmsted, Antimony Green Inc.

[email protected]