Combined with the group's previously announced offering of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered Volvo VNM and Volvo VNL model daycabs, the new engine will provide customers with a complete range of natural gas-powered transportation solutions. Within the Volvo brand another fuel is being tested that can be produced from natural gas, DME (dimethyl ether), which has the potential to become an attractive alternative for the North American market.
"Despite the near-term infrastructure questions regarding widespread adoption of natural gas as a heavy-duty truck fuel, it's clear this segment will grow over the next several years", said Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing.
Through advanced high-pressure diesel ignition technology – using trace amounts of diesel to ignite the natural gas – Volvo's LNG engine should deliver a 30 per cent fuel efficiency improvement compared with spark-ignition (SI) engines, making it a viable alternative for demanding long-haul applications. The Volvo 13-litre LNG engine should also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 per cent compared with current diesel products.
The Volvo Group has also conducted field tests of trucks equipped with DME. The results – from ten vehicles operating in a variety of applications in Europe – indicate DME holds much promise as a heavy-truck fuel, and could become a viable alternative in North America to CNG or LNG when it comes to performance, environmental impact, safety and distribution.
"Since we adopted Environmental Care as a core value in 1970s, the Volvo Group has dedicated the resources necessary to lead in alternative fuel technologies", Huibers said.
"We demonstrated in 2007 our ability to run vehicles on seven different fuels, and we continue to refine our work with a variety alternative fuels and drivelines. Our comprehensive strategy – including CNG, LNG, and potentially DME – means we'll have a complete range of natural gas solutions as the infrastructure develops."