• Blue Fuel – Ariel Corporation Converts its Factory Fleet to CNG

    In the last few years, Ariel Corporation has acquired a number of CNG-dedicated and bi-fuel (CNG + gasoline) vehicles with two ideas in mind: First, the fuel savings offered by CNG is still significant in comparison to diesel fuel even in light of recent drops in the price of petroleum. Secondly, Ariel, in its support of the expanded use of natural gas throughout the energy sector, believes in natural gas as a vehicle fuel and therefore has made concerted effort to support the use of American-sourced CNG for commercial fleets and passenger transportation. The utilization of American resources diversifies our national energy supply, creates jobs, helps to protect our environment, and plays a significant role in revitalizing our communities.

    Ariel’s fleet of semi trucks and other light vehicles log thousands of miles a year while serving our supply-chain operations, field service engineering site visits, and sales and marketing events. Ariel’s fuel savings have been significant. However, fuel savings are not the only consideration according to Elton Easterday, Ariel Transportation Analyst: “Having gone through the last two very cold winters with CNG, we know that cold weather does not affect a CNG fuel system as it does diesel. Just this morning a diesel had “gelling” problems that caused a trip to the local garage and delayed departure by more than (2) hours. Every winter has caused diesel truck delays and caused units to be towed due to fuel system problems. We have never had any concerns with CNG due to cold weather, which is a significant time and money saver.”

    Another issue involves the complex anti-pollution systems that modern diesels require. Ariel has experienced problems that have caused its diesel trucks to be towed and spend days in a garage to diagnose and repair problems associated with these anti-smog systems. The only anti-pollution device on a CNG truck is a catalytic converter, which is similar to a passenger car’s system, only larger. “We’ve had no problems with any catalytic converters on the CNG trucks,” said Easterday.

    Ariel’s first CNG-dedicated semi was put into operation in 2013. The T660 Kenworth semi tractor-trailer powered by 400-horsepower Cummins Westport ISX12G CNG engine has a CNG tank capacity of 112 diesel gallon equivalents. As a result of the success of that pilot program, Ariel acquired three more T660 Kenworths. “The only difference on the three recent trucks is that they have bigger CNG tanks for an increased range between fill ups. They have gone as far as 562 miles on one 170 DGE tank system,” Elton Easterday said.

    The experience of Ariel personnel also demonstrates the value of the CNG Kenworths. Drivers are happy with the power of the 400-horsepower CNG trucks and have hauled up to 46,000-pound payloads without hesitation. As well, it takes no longer to fuel up a CNG truck than it does a diesel. The fueling process is much cleaner with CNG - no diesel fuel or smell left on gloves or clothing. CNG engines run quieter than diesels. One driver reported that he believes his hearing has improved since he’s been in his CNG truck.

    Another plus is that CNG engines don’t vibrate as much as a diesel, which combined with their quieter operation means the driver will be less fatigued, an important factor for a company that is extremely concerned with worker safety.

    Easterday talked about the recent fluctuations in diesel fuel prices and noted that CNG prices are more stable. Even as the price gap between diesel and CNG narrows (at least temporarily) Easterday added, “The CNG trucks have fewer opportunities for problems. I would not want to go back to diesels.”

    In total, Ariel owns four CNG-powered Kenworth T660 semis, two bi-fuel Ford F-250 pickup trucks, one CNG Ford Transporter, and one Honda Civic NGV. With the success of these fleet vehicles, Ariel plans to acquire more CNG trucks and cars in the future.

    Ariel Corporation is the world's largest manufacturer of separable reciprocating gas compressors that are utilized to extract, process, transport, store, and distribute natural gas from the wellhead to the end-user. Ariel compressors for the CNG industry are derived from the same designs used in our field gas, process, and transmission services, and are intended to run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This combination of advanced design and industry experience makes the Ariel compressor one of the most robust, continuous-duty rated compressors in the CNG market.

    Images:

    • Ariel CNG Ford F-250

    • Ariel CNG Vehicle Fleet

    • Fueling an Ariel CNG Civic

    At A Glance

    Company
    Ariel Corporation

    Location:
    Mount Vernon & Akron, Ohio

    Fuel:
    CNG

     

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