Despite the best efforts of T. Boone Pickens and other natural gas advocates, the trucking industry has been slow to embrace the fuel as an alternative to diesel.
But an affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corp. may have a solution.
Peake Fuel Solutions has developed what it is calling diesel natural gas, an easy-to-install system that allows heavy-duty trucks to add less expensive natural gas to their fueling options.
The dual-fuel system allows drivers to get up to 70 percent of their fuel from natural gas instead of diesel without sacrificing performance, said Bryan Curtis, Peake's manager of technical services.
Kent Wilkinson, vice president of natural gas ventures at Chesapeake, said natural gas — either compressed or liquefied — will allow truck drivers to save 20 cents to 24 cents a mile on their fuel costs.
That is huge in an industry where officials report their profit margins are about 5 cents to 7 cents a mile.
Wilkinson said the Peake system will allow trucking companies to get the benefit of cheaper natural gas without the “range anxiety” that worries many who are contemplating the switch.
He said drivers will be able to use CNG or LNG if it is available without losing the ability to fill up with diesel.
“This allows you to begin getting that savings today,” Wilkinson said.
Peake's diesel natural gas system is customizable to meet the needs of trucking companies and truck owners interested in saving money on fuel.
Wilkinson said the system is composed of three basic parts that can be installed by two technicians in about 10 hours, but he hopes that figure will come down in time.