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Alternative Fuels for CMVs

Alternative fuels for commercial motor vehicles are a hot topic for the commercial motor vehicle drivers, fleet managers, and small business owners alike. According to the United States Department of Energy, there are six major types of alternative fuels for CMVs. These fuels consist of Biodiesel, Electricity, Ethanol, Hydrogen, Natural Gas, and Propane.

Business needs determines the best alternative fuel to pick. Most alternative fuels for CMVs include tax incentives and fuel-efficiency. While saving some extra cash in the business’s wallet, and saving the world from some of those deadly CO2 emissions sounds fantastic. However, how do these green fuels help a business, their towing abilities, and their fleet? Below is a list, describing how these six alternatives fuels could help a commercial truck business.

Biodiesel as Alternative Fuels

Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats, or used cooking oil (UCO). This alternative fuel is a greener version of the typical diesel found at many gas stations. It reduces carbon dioxide emissions up to 75%.  In most cases commercial vehicles use this without having to change the entire fuel system or engine itself; however, stay on the side of caution. Always check the engine warranty to the CMV. Make sure it is compatible with the chosen blend. There are 236 biodiesel stations available in the United States.

Electricity as Alternative Fuels

The three types of electric vehicles available are:

  • Hybrids (HEVs), vehicles with internal combustion engines powered by gas and a motor powered by electricity.
  • Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs), drive vehicles with an internal combustion engine and electric motor on strictly electricity.
  • All-electric vehicles have motors that solely run on electricity.

Each electric vehicle has its own set of fuel efficiencies and uses different varying degrees of electricity. All electric vehicles have no emissions whatsoever, while both hybrids have the option to charge using regenerative braking. There are over 10,000 electric stations around the United States.

Ethanol as Alternative Fuels

There are vehicles that have ‘flexible fuel’ capabilities. These vehicles use an ethanol and gasoline mixture, which helps eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol is made from corn and other plants; however the blend depends on the geography and season. Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) also have the ability to use just normal gasolines, hence the flexibility. There are 2,678 ethanol stations across the United States.

Hydrogen as Alternative Fuels

Using Hydrogen as an alternative fuel is a little difficult. Hydrogen as a fuel is still in the development process. It is difficult to extract the energy from elements such as water and methane, so, because of this, hydrogen is expensive. The process is good. It is made from renewable sources and the only byproduct that is created is water! Fuel Cell car prototypes are beginning to come out and there has been a company who has created hydrogen fuel cells for medium duty trucks. Although, this type of technology is still costly at least for the next few years because it is still in the development process. There are just over 10 hydrogen stations in the United States.

Natural Gas as Alternative Fuels

Natural gas is made of methane and other hydrocarbon. This fuel source makes up 25% of the energy used in the U.S. alone. Natural Gas can come in two forms: Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Use LNG  in medium and heavy duty vehicles. More energy is stored per tank versus CNG. Clean burning lowers emissions and doesn’t wear the engine done as quickly as petroleum gasoline does. There are fewer than 900 CNG stations across the United States.

Propane as Alternative Fuels

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), otherwise known as propane, is a decade old fuel solution for fuel light all the way to heavy duty vehicles. Sadly, these vehicles can come at a higher cost. The upside to this is propane gas is cheaper and helps reduce costs for commercial vehicle owners and managers. It is less cost effective converting gasoline and diesel vehicles to propane. Within the next few years though, propane vehicles will be a lot easier to obtain since they are becoming more and more available. Over 1,500 stations across the United States offer propane.

For more information on this topic, or if questions that require answers that is not provided here, please contact Truck-n-Trailer at 405-912-5800 to speak to our Service Manager.

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