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Compressed Natural Gas Makes for a Cleaner Ride

January 10, 2017

view of FedEx semi from the lower rail

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) has a name that sounds like it could be a complex scientific concept, but it’s really not that complicated: CNG is primarily methane gas stored at high pressure. That’s it.

Why do we care?

We care because CNG can be used in the same place as gasoline, diesel, or propane, but is generally cleaner and helps diversify the fuel supply.

It’s pretty simple to generate – made by compressing normal natural gas to less than 1% of the volume it occupies at normal atmospheric pressure. CNG burns more cleanly than diesel, producing lower CO2 emissions, and almost all of the natural gas in the United States is homegrown, not imported.

Natural gas can be renewable, with some of it even generated by landfills.

Field Testing CNG at FedEx Freight

Testing is an important part of paving the road ahead, determining the right fuel, with the right plan and route. There is no one size to fit all cases. At FedEx, as we continue our development of the fleet of the future, we look at things like electric vehicles, hydrogen, and alternative fuels.

As part of our EarthSmart program, we’ve recently invested in more than 100 new tractor-trailers that run on Compressed Natural Gas. Those vehicles are part of a test at our FedEx Freight hub in Oklahoma City.

We’re looking at how tractors run, as well as ease of use from our drivers and technicians’ perspectives. We’re also looking to figure out if natural gas vehicles can have a lower maintenance cost.

CNG tractors are more expensive than traditional diesels, but they have very similar range (750 miles), and driver certification is the same.

More Than One Way to Refuel

You can’t fill up a CNG truck at your average corner gas station. Special equipment is required to fill the tanks safely.

As part of our purchase of the 100 new CNG trucks, we’ve also equipped our Oklahoma City Service Center with a new CNG fueling station. The most impressive thing about this new fueling station is the “Time-Fill” option.

This allows our team members to hook up hoses to as many as 18 trucks at a time to refuel them overnight. Time Fill saves time for drivers because they can just hook up and walk away, returning to a fully fueled vehicle in the morning.

Because the Time Fill option fuels more slowly, it generates less ‘heat of compression’. That allows for more CNG to be placed in the tanks of our big rigs. And it lets us run routes that are cleaner and more efficient.

18 tanks for 18 wheelers…we think that might be the beginnings of a great country music song.

view of FedEx semi from the lower rail
view of FedEx semi from the lower rail
view of FedEx semi from the lower rail
view of FedEx semi from the lower rail
view of FedEx semi from the lower rail
view of FedEx semi from the lower rail
view of FedEx semi from the lower rail
view of FedEx semi from the lower rail


    JJ says:

    I commend FedEx for giving natural gas a try. My only question is what took so long? This country needs corporate leadership on converting heavy duty truck engines to run on natural gas. We have near zero emission technology for CNG, LNG, and RNG use right now. It’s time for FedEx to get on board.

    William Barry Epling says:

    I am very happy to see us moving in an eco-friendly fuel search. I like the fact that their is also little to no exposure to the drivers of fumes or skin contact on the fill up end! This is a great benefit health wise! Great job on taking this positive step. May FedEx inspire many other large fleet corporations and help keep our people and atmosphere cleaner!

    E 85 says:

    New ways to produce ethanol from Co2 have come about and is another fuel to consider is E 85 gasoline. Producing ethanol from corn is very wasteful and looking at new technologies for producing E 85 could also reduce emissions from trucks.

    Frank Lestishock says:

    Great way to go the only thing ican say the trucks on the road today using this are very LOUD

    ExFedEx says:

    FedEx is likely still the world’s largest commercial user of electric vehicles.

    Wrightspeed, Tesla, Workhorse and many others are getting on board with electric vehicles.

    The pro’s of EV’s versus fossil fuels greatly outweigh any of the claimed and typically grossly exaggerated cons.

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