BOC evaluates lean gas artic
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by John Kendall
• The first lean-burn compressed natural gas-powered artic in Europe has started service trials with BOC distribution. The ERF EC12 fitted with 12-lin-e Perkins Eagle Tx was engine will be used to distribute chilled food supplies to Marks & Spencer stores in the London area. The vehicle will be based at BOC Distribution's ilemel Hempstead depot.
The ERF differs from conventional CNG-powered trucks in using lean-burn technology. According to BOC Distribution Fleet Engineer Sam de Beaux: "Test bed data shows that a rigid with lean-burn gas engine was returning around 12mpg, which is what we would expect from a rigid with a diesel Perkins Phaser 210."
Lean-burn technology improves a gas engine's efficiency to around 3-5% less than a diesel engine. Conventional gas engines are around 15% less efficient than an equivalent diesel with a similar fuel consumption penalty. De Beaux expects the ERF gas artic to return fuel consumption in line with a similarly powered diesel.
The gas EC12 offers a range of 580-650km from its six gas cylinders. The composite cylinders were evaluated by BOC Distribution's sister company BOC Gases before they gained approval. They weigh 50% less than steel cylinders and have passed all the relevant safety tests including crush testing.
The engine is rated at 300hp and the four-axle artic operates at 32 tonnes. According to de Beaux, the gas-powered truck costs an additional 35 pence per mile to operate compared with an equivalent diesel. "We must look to the Government to help us bridge that gap if we are to gain the environmental benefits that gas offers," he says.