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German joint project confirms LNG boosts transition to clean mobility

LNG is an ideal replacement fuel for conventional diesel, as it is far more environmentally-friendly and easier to handle. That is the outcome of a joint pilot project run by RWE Supply &Trading and duisport, the operating company of Duisburg Port. The collaborative project, run with the scientific support of the University of Duisburg-Essen studied the use of LNG in the world’s largest inland port over a period of two years between 2018 and 2020.

“LNG is already a good solution for reducing emissions in heavy goods transport and shipping, until alternative propulsion systems such as hydrogen or synthetic fuels become economically viable and available in sufficient quantities. We are therefore delighted that our partner Rolande has recently built an LNG station in the Port of Duisburg,” said Andree Stracke, Chief Commercial Officer Origination & Gas Supply at RWE Supply & Trading.

“We have been striving for sustainable logistics at Duisburg Port for a long time now. Our joint project with RWE and the University of Duisburg-Essen has successfully shown that the use of LNG leads to a better environmental footprint. At the same time, the use of LNG is safe and offers convincing benefits in terms of economic efficiency, and in heavy vehicle transportation it has proved its worth as an alternative to diesel in the port area – and the trend is rising”, commented duisport CEO Erich Staake.

Specialists from the University of Duisburg-Essen Mechatronics and Building Operation and Construction Management faculties accompanied the project as scientific advisors: “Our analysis shows that natural gas used in port vehicles is a practicable, everyday fuel alternative to the established diesel option and capable of lowering greenhouse emissions within the transport industry”, said the scientists. “This is underlined by the positive feedback we documented from Duisburg Port employees. They extensively tested the vehicles and tank station infrastructure under real operating conditions and found them fit for purpose.”

RWE installed a mobile tank station at Duisburg Port to enable port-internal vehicles and the trucks of local truckage companies to fill up on LNG. The LNG converted vehicles made available by duisport were then tested under everyday conditions and compared to the performance of diesel-powered trucks. The university used data loggers and exhaust-fume trackers to analyze the data.

The results revealed around 10% lower carbon emissions and a 50% reduction in carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide compared to diesel. The project thus comes to a clear result that vehicles powered solely by LNG significantly reduce environmentally-harmful emissions and local pollutants compared to vehicles with the same mechanical properties but fueled by diesel. In addition, the project analyzed the practical experience of the employees involved in the demonstration project. The outcome here was also positive. It was not just the fact that the drivers could hardly tell the difference between the LNG-powered vehicles and the diesel trucks. They also noticed the LNG-modified vehicles were significantly quieter to run.

Overall the project partners invested around 1.5 million euros in this exercise, with about half of it coming from the European Fund for Regional Development, which accepted the project as part of its support regime for contestable climate-change-mitigation initiatives.

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