The Girl Who Pumped Methane-Diesel
OK. The headline is a shameless gloss on Stieg Larsson. There is no evidence that Salander can even drive a big rig (although she could undoubtedly figure it out, posthaste).
But Volvo Trucks—based in Sweden, so it isn’t a gratuitous reference—has just initiated a program of running heavy trucks on liquefied methane gas. How do you liquefy methane gas you wonder? Well, it is a matter of cooling it down to -160 °C and then it liquefies. And that leads to a halving of its volume, so the tanks holding the fuel can provide enough of the liquid to travel a long way.
According to Volvo Trucks, when liquid methane and diesel are used in a 75:25 ratio, a truck—either operating in a long haul or intercity model—will achieve 2X the operating range of methane diesel vehicle running on compressed gas and four times the range of trucks running with conventional a conventional internal combustion engine (i.e., gasoline) cycle.
And there is an environmental aspect, as well: says Lars Mårtensson, Environmental Director at Volvo Trucks, “When trucks can operate on 80% pure biogas and 20% pure biodiesel, carbon emissions will be 80% lower than with conventional diesel technology.”
It should be noted, however, that there isn’t a whole lot of availability of liquid methane in Sweden or anywhere else, for that matter. This week the first filling station for the fuel is opening in Gothenburg.
Mazda, the Little Car Company That Can, has been working on a number of important fronts of late.
Homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) is a means by which there is combustion of fuel via pressure rather than a spark.
When you think of complex, highly technical devices that you use every day in your car—in fact, possibly as much as three to 10 times per minute—you probably don’t think of your rearview mirror.