Liquefied natural gas station to open in Conn.

A new type of gas station is opening in Connecticut, selling liquefied natural gas to trucks to reduce polluting diesel fumes while potentially saving money.

Bill Malone, owner and operator of Enviro Express Inc., which transports waste to landfills and transfer stations, is opening the LNG station Friday at his company in Bridgeport near busy Interstate 95, a key East Coast highway that extends from Maine to Florida.

The Bridgeport station also will sell compressed natural gas that fuels cars. Malone and other promoters of LNG for vehicles say the fuel stations, established years ago in the West, are only now beginning to move east, starting with the Connecticut site.

The 53-year-old Malone, who said he has been in the trucking business since he was 18, was looking to cut pollution from his fleet of diesel-fuel trucks. He heard of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which designs, builds and operates natural gas fueling stations. Malone said in 2008 he met T. Boone Pickens, a co-founder of the Seal Beach, Calif., company and Texas oil man, now a booster of alternative fuels.

"He convinced me that to be viable as a trucking firm, I need to go LNG," Malone said.

Liquefied and compressed natural gas are initially being used for corporate and government vehicle fleets. Malone plans to initially convert 18 of his own trucks to LNG, and said he has won a commitment from AT&T Inc. to buy fuel for 48 trucks.

The station will be open to trucks and cars that can fill up using credit cards linked to their company fleet accounts.

Promoters of natural gas say LNG and CNG are cleaner than gasoline and reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil because most natural gas is from North America.

The cost savings will grow as oil prices continue to climb, with a difference of between 50 cents and $1 per gallon, said Bruce Russell, spokesman for Clean Energy Fuels Corp. Large trucks can consume up to 20,000 gallons a year or more, he said.

Patrick Davis, vehicle technologies program manager at the U.S. Department of Energy, said the Bridgeport station is among numerous projects receiving $300 million total in federal stimulus funding. That represents about one-third of the overall investment in these projects, which includes money committed by businesses such as Enviro Express.

The $6.2 million cost of the Bridgeport station is split between Enviro Express and federal stimulus money.

"I would be buying new trucks anyway. I couldn't have planned it better," Malone said.

The Bridgeport station, which Davis said is the first to open east of the Mississippi River, and other LNG and CNG stations are intended primarily to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and provide a fuel that does not pollute.

Liquefied natural gas is condensed after being taken to temperatures as low as minus 200 degrees, said Bruce Wilding, a research scientist at the Idaho National Laboratory. Compressed Natural Gas can be used for cars, which he said are more common in the West than on the East Coast.

Russell said LNG is "coming along" as an alternate fuel for trucking.

Clean Energy has reached a deal to install LNG stations at truck stops nationwide and is building three stations, one in Texas and two in southern California.

LNG vehicles have plied the highways of California before moving to other states because of demands for cleaner air, Russell said.

In the meantime, Malone said he will keep his diesel trucks as backups if the LNG station has technical troubles.

"If we have a problem with the fueling station, I can't run down the road to another fueling station," he said.



This article was first published by Forbes.

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