Reading: Fuel for thought

While digging around the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) web site I discovered Fuel for thought, a publication by the Future Fuels Forum 2007. This June 2008 publication informs us how the Future Fuels Forum thinks transport fuels will pan out in our future with modelling from now to 2050.  It is an interesting document and I suggest you read it if you are at all interested in the future of transport fuels in Australia. Click the cover page below to download the PDF (1.5Mb).

challenges and opportunities (PDF)

CSIRO 2008: Fuel for thought - The future of transport fuels: challenges and opportunities (PDF)

Apart from being relatively easy to read and informative for those of us without a scientific or economic background it provides great insight into the conservative information upon which our governments are making decisions that impact your future and mine. It isn’t all conservative mind you. The modelling for a continuing rise in demand for oil and a sharp decline in supply shows we could pay as much as $8 per litre for petrol in the not too distant future and the authors do stress the urgency with which alternatives for oil must be found.

While the document was written before the global financial crisis really started to bite the bulk of it remains relevant. If you do read it I’d like to know what you think so please leave a comment.


Advanced Engine Components is doing good business in China

Following on from its December 2008 deal with Tata Motors in India (previous post), Perth based Advanced Engine Components (AEC) has recently announced a $1.2m order for their Natural Gas Vehicle System (NGVS) kits and associated engine components from Aussen Engine (Aussen) in China. Aussen is building compressed natural gas (CNG) engines for buses and trucks. The buses are for Wuhan Public Transport. Wuhan, with a population over 9 million, is the capital of Hubei Province. The trucks are for the Guizhou Province.

Separate negotiations for delivery of a further $600,000 worth of NGVS kits to Wuxi Xilian Diesel Engine Manufacturing (Xilian)  is in final stages of negotiation with delivery expected by 30 April 2009. The CNG engines, to be built by Xilian, are for the Nanjing Xincheng Bus Company. Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu Province. Nanjing Xincheng Bus Company has been running fifty buses delivered in April 2008 that were built by Chongqing Hengtong Bus Company with Xilian AEC CNG engines. Xilian has also taken delivery of twenty two ACE NGVS kits for liquefied natural gas (LNG) bus engines for Haikou Public Transport Company. Haikou is the capital of Hainan Province.

Xiamen Kinglong Bus Company in Shaoxing has purchased and taken delivery of ten Weichai WT 615 LNG engines from AEC. The buses are for Hangzhou Public Transportation Company. The order follows extensive trials in a competitive tender situation.

Guiyang Public Traffic Company has purchased forty buses from Huanghai Bus Company in Dandong. The buses have FAW DDE 230 hp AEC LNG engines. The purchase follows eight months of competitive trials against other LNG engines.

At 31 December 2008 there were approximately 400 natural gas vehicles, using the ACE NGVS, in active service throughout China. The above sales are certain to at least double that number.

Source: Advance Engine Components (PDF)

Will trucks or trains absorb future freight growth?

A short post by Bob Murphy at Business Spectator suggests that larger trucks will absorb freight growth in Australia providing the big rigs have adequate road infrastructure and defined routes to haul massive loads. Mr Murphy sites the fact that road networks have more coverage than rail networks and that trucks pay their own way (unlike rail) and concludes that larger trucks will win over rail in the future.

What about factoring in the price of fuel and that rail is more efficient than road on a tonne per kilometer basis? Road may be winning now but rail will surely reassert itself when fuel prices increase again. I suspect the Federal Government knew this when they announced a $1.2 billion investment in Australian Rail Track Corporation in December 2008 as part of the $4.7 billion Nation Building Package.

Whatever the reason for the investment in Australian Rail Track Corporation it seems obvious that road and rail will continue to share Australia’s freight haulage duties. The percentage carried by each will depend on how efficient they use fuel. When taken in this context trucks do seem to have an advantage in that some trucking companies are using LNG and CNG to reduce their fuel costs and emissions. However,in the two years that I’ve been writing on Envirofuel I’ve never heard of Australian freight train operators investigating alternative fuels. I hope that is because I haven’t been listening in the right places rather than complacency in the rail world.

Volvo truck engines to get Clean Air Power

UK based Clean Air Power has announced an agreement with Volvo to development and incorporate their Dual-Fuel™ technology into Volvo truck engines. Dual-Fuel™ is a patented system which enables heavy duty diesel engines to run on up to 90 percent natural gas with a small amount of diesel fuel providing the ignition source. The benefits are lower fuel costs and lower emission.

The intention of the agreement is that the resulting products will be marketed and supported by Volvo Trucks. The products will have the Clean Air Power technology fully interfaced with the Volvo engine management system and will be applied to Volvo’s D13 engine. Clean Air Power and Volvo engineers will work together to develop the products and the agreement provides for Clean Air Power to receive revenue from Volvo during the project.

Clean Air Power has over 1,600 Dual-Fuel™ installations operating in some very demanding environments around the world. Beginning in early 2007 Clean Air Power sold a minimum of 84 Dual-Fuel™ kits to Western Australian trucking company Mitchel Corp Australia Pty Ltd ( previous post). Mitchell’s fleet of LNG and diesel powered road trains (multi-trailer vehicles running at over 100 tonne gross vehicle weight) transport a range of goods on long haul journeys in and out of Perth, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie.

Victorian Transport Plan released

The Victorian Department of Transport released the Victorian Transport Plan (VTP) earlier this month. Not having a great understanding of Melbourne and Victoria make it hard to assess the VTP but at least Victoria has a plan. The proof will be in the execution.

Highlights include:

  • Up to 70 new trains and 100km of new track for Melbourne’s suburban rail systems
  • Up to 50 new trams
  • Up to 270 new buses and the continuation of the hybrid bus trial
  • Regional rail improvements to boost capacity by 9000 extra passengers and hour
  • Upgrades to regional transport infrastructure (in partnership with the Commonwealth)
  • Improved freight access to Port Melbourne
  • Completing the Melbourne ring road
  • Improving regional rail lines including electrification of existing lines
  • Fostering research into second and third generation biofuels
  • $100 million increase in funding for bicycle lanes and shared paths
  • $5 million public bicycle hire scheme for inner Melbourne
  • Encouraging the use of low emission vehicles
  • Mandatory emissions targets for State Government fleets


  • No transport emissions reduction target set
  • No inclusion of viable alternative fuels such as natural gas

You can download the VTP here (9.2Mb PDF).

You can download maps showing the detail here.

Freight Futures is a companion plan to the VTC dealing specifically with Victoria’s long-term freight network strategy. You can download Freight Futures here (5.3Mb PDF).

Advanced Engine Components executes CNGV deal with Tata Motors

Not long ago we reported that Advanced Engine Components (AEC) in Western Australia had agreed a Letter of Intent to enter into a ten year Purchase Agreement with Tata Motors of India for the sale of natural gas vehicle systems, related components, spares and services. AEC have announced the execution of that deal with Tata.

AEC will design, develop, test and certify compressed natural gas (CNG) kits as part of the natural gas vehicle system (NGVS). The NGVS is for naturally aspirated and turbo charged CNG versions of Tata’s four and six cylinder engines for commercial vehicle application.

AEC has commenced development on the NGVS for the Tata CNG engines. A key component of the NGVS for the Tata engine development programme is completion of the fifth generation AEC electronic control unit (“ECU”). The fifth generation ECU is a significant advance on the current ECU incorporating simplified state of the art components, with incremental development capacity.

Tasmanian consortium to provide LNG for heavy transport

LNG Refuellers Pty Ltd, a consortium comprising seven Tasmanian transport operators, has announced a deal with industrial gas company BOC, for the supply of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) fuel for over 120 natural gas powered heavy vehicles. LNG Refuellers will own and operate a network of six commercial LNG refuelling stations across Tasmania.

BOC will design and construct the entire supply chain infrastructure for the group, including the LNG road tankers and the six refuelling stations. The company will also build and operate a new Micro-LNG plant near Westbury, provided it obtains all the necessary planning and development approvals. It says the plant will able to produce around 50 tonnes of the gas every day which is the equivalent of 70,000L of diesel.

The seven Tasmanian transport operators in the LNG Refuellers Pty Ltd consortium are:

  • Chas Kelly Transport
  • KJ Padgett Pty Ltd
  • Aprin Transport
  • Les Walkden Enterprises
  • Exeter Sawmill
  • Country Roadways Pty Ltd
  • Kevin Morgan Pty Ltd