After cars the next largest contributor to Carbon Dioxide (Co2) emissions in the UK are heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). There is no surprise then there is a considerable amount of focus and investment from the government on reducing emissions from the heavy diesel users.

According to the Department of Transport HGVs are the single largest transporter of goods in the UK moving over 1.49 billion of tonnes of goods across 16.9 billion kilometres in 2014. Due to the nature of “heavy goods” you need a lot of torque in order to move and at the moment our friend’s electricity and hydrogen aren’t quite up to the job. For decades only one fuel has been used, diesel.

The European Commission have done the best they can by introducing legislation to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and emission levels through the Euro 1 – 6 legislation but diesel has never really had a competitor until 3 or 4 years ago. That competitor is natural gas, both in compressed (CNG) and liquid (LNG) form.

  • CNG is compressed natural gas which is used in spark ignition engines and is the ideal solution for light goods vehicles which can travel short to medium distances and in particular dense urban areas.
  • LNG (liquid natural gas) is the liquid version; 2.5 times more can be stored in a tank, is injected into the engine and so is ideal for the medium to long distance trunking journeys.

Liquid natural gas as an alternative fuel 

In the UK there are roughly 600 LNG trucks which have dual-fuel technology – these are vehicles which use both LNG and diesel. The use of LNG as an alternative fuel either as a replacement for or in conjunction with diesel, will reduce the total consumption of diesel in the HGV market and cut CO2 emissions. LNG typically accounts for up to 60 per cent of total fuel consumption for a dual-fuel vehicle.

Diesel produces around 2.6 kg of CO2 for every litre burned, whereas LNG when used with diesel in a dual fuel vehicle typically reduces CO2 emissions between 10 and 14 per cent. In the next few years we will see the introduction of 100% gas engines which are either in a development or testing phase and will only further the reduction of emissions.

Public LNG refuelling stations

As with most innovation there is a classic chicken and egg scenario; the vehicles must have a network of refuelling stations and investment is needed into the infrastructure. There are currently 12 public access sites (there are 12 private ones as well) which can offer LNG fuel across the UK. BOC operates 7 refuelling stations and all but two are at customer sites. We have big plans to make big steps into the public refuelling market starting with an installation at Exelby Services on the M6 near Carlisle.

Mobile refuelling


BOC’s mobile liquid natural gas refuelling unit

BOC’s innovation in the field has come into its own with the introduction of a mobile refuelling facility. The LNG refuelling unit uses cryogenic cooling to ‘temperature-condition’ the fuel just prior to dispensing, and also incorporates a unique ‘zero loss’ refuelling technology.

BOC’s LNG technology uses nitrogen to keep the liquid LNG in the fuel tank at a constant super chilled temperature and this prevents the liquid from turning into a gas. The result is a zero loss system which allows no harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The same system can draw warm gas from a vehicle tank and return that back to a liquid form.

Watch our video to see how LNG is helping to deliver a cleaner future and for more information visit 

Nick Power
Market Development Manager, Clean Fuels