According to estimates, there are around 25 LNG filling stations in operation in the entire Federal Republic of Germany. By comparison, around 14,000 filling stations can be accessed by users of conventional petrol- or diesel-based propulsion systems. This aspect was one of the major challenges that the team of the ZUFALL branch in Haiger around the branch managers Maja Heimerl and Meik Hilk had to overcome. However, together with the long-standing partners and transport companies AY Trans GmbH & Co KG and Sari Transporte GmbH & Co KG, a concept was developed that enables the use of LNG propulsion. Three bridge trains and an articulated lorry have been in operation on behalf of ZUFALL logistics group since the beginning of the year.
The four vehicles will be used on the logistics service provider’s scheduled services in North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse. The reason for this is that LNG filling stations can be reached in Hamm as well as in Cologne. Another plus point for the use of the trucks is an LNG filling station in the industrial area of Haiger, not far from the ZUFALL branch there.
“As things are today, unfortunately, it is often not a question of wanting to, but rather of being able to,” Meik Hilk emphasises and adds, “However, where it is already possible today, we are trying to resort to more sustainable drives and thus also to the use of biogas trucks. And that in daytime and night-time traffic.”
Despite government subsidies, biogas trucks are around 30,000 euros more expensive than comparable diesel trucks. One financial incentive, however, is the three-year toll exemption for trucks of this type. “To compensate for the additional cost of purchasing the vehicles, we pay our transport companies AY Trans and Sari a levy on the cost per tour,” Meik Hilk explains.
Both AY Trans and Sari Transporte report great satisfaction with the new vehicles to the ZUFALL Haiger branch. “We have not regretted the investments and would buy biogas trucks again. However, this also depends on the long-term framework conditions, such as the exemption from tolls and government subsidies. Otherwise, the purchase price is simply still too high,” says Yusuf Almaci, Managing Director of AY Trans.
The LNG engines are not only almost half as quiet as diesel engines, but also have powerful acceleration. At the same time, the Iveco trucks are characterised by comparatively long maintenance periods of around 90,000 kilometres.
LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), like CNG, is composed of biomethane and/or natural gas. The difference, however, lies in the state of aggregation. LNG is a liquefied form of the gas. LNG has the advantage that, with a range of around 1,200 to 1,500 kilometres, it is possible to cover significantly longer distances at a stretch than with conventional CNG, which covers around 400 kilometres.
The higher the biomethane content in the gas mixture, the better the CO₂ balance of the refuelling vehicle. The biomethane in LNG and CNG is obtained from liquid manure and harvest waste, among other things. The methane, which is released into the atmosphere anyway through the decomposition of the biomass, is thus used as fuel in an intermediate step. In principle, depending on the mixing ratio, a truck running on biogas can save around 95 percent of CO₂ emissions compared to diesel. At the same time, it blows significantly fewer particles and nitrogen oxides into the air.