A methane powered Scania 6340 was tested in Russia, over a distance of nearly 10,000 km. Are these cars the future of transport?

A methane powered Scania 6340 was tested in Russia, over a distance of nearly 10,000 km. Are these cars the future of transport?

For two weeks, on the route between Moscow and St. Petersburg, there were tests conducted regarding the methane powered Scania 6340 owned by AsstrA, an international transport and logistics company. The tests were carried out in natural conditions: the truck was driving with a load and every day, it travelled an average of 700 km for 10-11 hours. The driver were spending about 6 hours in each of the loading and unloading sites. The total duration of the round trip was 36-40 hours. Overall, the car drove over 9,700 km.

The nine-litre engine of the car (Scania OC09 102, Euro 6) that generates a maximum power of 340 KM at 1,900 rpm (max. torque of 1,600 Nm at 1,100-1,400 rpm) was powered by natural gas (methane) compressed to a pressure of 20-25 MPa. To achieve an energy value of 1 l of diesel fuel, approximately 1 m of cubic metre of gas is needed and 1 m of natural gas weights approx. 0.7 kg.

The results of the tests showed considerate fuel saving reducing operating costs by 50 percent. The truck also emitted almost one-third less carbon dioxide, five times less particles, and eleven times less nitrogen oxide compared to the Scania DC13 103 powered by the Diesel engine (Euro 5).

There are pros and there are cons

Although almost 5 million cars worldwide run on compressed natural gas, there are only about 9,000 supply stations for this fuel (including just over 3,000 stations in Europe, one-third of which is in Italy). Usually, the tested car drove about 400 km on a full tank. Therefore, one round trip between Moscow and St. Petersburg required six refuelling stops. This is a big problem.

To double the scope, a methane-powered vehicle can be equipped with an additional 700-litre gas tank (which makes it possible to cross the Moscow-St. Petersburg route with only one refuelling stop) but that affect the load capacity of the vehicle. In fact, the post-test assessment states that "heavy loads are another challenge for eco-transport; cargo of 20-22 t would be too heavy for its G340 electric engine."

It was also stressed that the price was still a key factor when choosing vehicles and a methane-powered car costed up to EUR 25,000 (over PLN 100,000)—more than its equivalent with a diesel engine. However, that should not discourage interest in methane supply.

The significant fuel savings make it possible to make up the difference after just one year of efficient use, along with more profits in the years to come," as the persons ranking the Russian tests conclude.

Photo: AsstrA