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Gas is the way to go

Running vehicles on alternative fuels is becoming more common the world over. A South African entity now offers a suitable solution to the local market – with savings in fuel consumption and emissions.

Tetra4, a subsidiary of Renergen, listed on the JSE Alt-X, is developing a unique gas field in Virginia, in the Free State, where methane gas, produced from microbes underground, is being harnessed for the South African market as an alternative fuel to diesel and liquified petroleum gas (LPG).

Tetra4 currently supplies ten dedicated natural gas (NG) buses to a company in Virginia, in addition to a major South African conglomerate with compressed natural gas (CNG) for 15 heavy-duty trucks in the form of diesel dual fuel (DDF).

A further 50 trucks on DDF liquid natural gas (LNG) will be supplied when full production comes online. Tetra4 has also concluded an offtake agreement with a promising fuel distribution company for 100 fuel delivery trucks running on DDF.

NG is versatile in that it can either be used to fuel dedicated NG or DDF systems for long-haul transport. In the case of DDF, a specialised conversion kit is added to the standard diesel engine and the truck operates on a mixture of diesel and NG – or seamlessly reverts back to diesel if NG is unavailable.

High-quality NG is used to prevent issues such as engine knock (pre-ignition). This is where Tetra4’s NG is in a class of its own as a premium fuel. The gas contains methane (94 percent) and nitrogen (six percent) making it one of the cleanest and most consistent natural gases, not only in South Africa, but worldwide.

Tetra4 is currently dispensing NG as CNG, but construction will shortly commence on a state-of-the-art liquefaction plant where LNG will be produced and distributed nationally to the transport industry. LNG has a considerably larger storage capacity, than that of CNG.

Typically, a 600-litre CNG tank at 200 bars will hold the equivalent of 130 litres of diesel, whereas a 600-litre LNG tank will hold 332 diesel litre equivalent (DLE). A truck filled with LNG will travel almost three times further than it would on CNG, a huge advantage for long-distance hauling.

Significant reductions in carbon dioxide, NOx and particulate emissions are some environmental benefits of NG over diesel. Fuel savings are very important to the transport industry, and this is where Tetra4’s NG can significantly assist haulage companies in improving profitability.

NG relates to a direct 25-percent fuel saving for dedicated LNG trucks. Trucks fitted with DDF systems can expect 12 to 18 percent fuel cost savings with a pay-back period of 12 months (mileage dependent).

To make NG more accessible to the transport industry, Tetra4 supplies, installs and maintains fuel storage and dispensing equipment at “client-owned depots”. The company will be embarking on a roll-out of filling stations on the N1 and N3 highways with additional routes as demand increases.

Diesel substitution with alternative fuels is a growing global phenomenon, with electric engines years away from being feasible for heavy-duty trucks. Tetra4 will provide a versatile fuel source capable of meeting the energy needs for the South African transport industry, through LNG.

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.

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