In recent years, logistics seems to have finally realized the need to make eco-sustainable choices. A not easy path that, until some time ago, was carried out only by some players in the transport sector, such as De Rosa’s Smet. A process as inevitable as it is desirable, especially in the aftermath of the spread of new technologies that can ensure less environmental impact. This is the case with liquid natural gas or, according to the English, liquefied natural gas. The liquid methane route still requires an effort on the part of those who, like Smet, have decided to invest in the sustainability of their transport. This is why Smet’s De Rosa family, which has always focused on environmentally friendly logistics, has decided to invest in natural gas.
Liquid natural gas or LNG
The long history of liquid natural gas begins at the beginning of the 20th century, when the first techniques for liquefying air were developed. Later, given the convenience of storage that we will see later, LNG was used as a reserve in periods of high demand for gas. However, some accidents blocked its development. Only in the 1960s did the process resume, until the spread we are witnessing in recent years.
What is LNG
Liquid natural gas, or LNG, is a hydrocarbon obtained by purifying (cooling and condensing) natural gas. Subject to these processes, in fact, the gas has a high concentration of methane. In liquid natural gas, in fact, its percentage varies between 90 and 99%, depending on the deposits from which the natural gas is taken. Also for this reason, LNG is improperly defined as liquid methane. For the rest, however, it is possible to trace butane, ethane, propane and other substances to a lesser extent.
The chemical composition differentiates it from LPG, which contains mostly propane. Moreover, unlike LNG, liquid propane gas is stored at room temperature. On the other hand, liquid natural gas must be stored in cryogenic, i.e. refrigerated, tanks at approximately -160 °C so that it is not released into the environment.
Advantages of liquid natural gas
One of the main advantages of liquid gas is the reduction in volume, compared to the starting gas. During the liquefaction process, the volume of the gas is reduced by as much as 600 times. In other words, 600 litres of natural gas are needed to produce one litre of liquid natural gas. This results in lower transport and storage costs from an economic point of view. Compared to diesel, liquid natural gas also costs around 40% less.
The benefits are not just economic. Liquefied natural gas also makes it possible to eliminate particulate emissions altogether and significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This brings the engine up to Euro 6 class. Not only gaseous emissions, but also noise emissions. Compared to a diesel engine, the LNG engine reduces noise.
LNG for the re-launch of logistics
In Italy, the spread of liquid natural gas is still slow. Compared to previous years, however, the attention for this ecological fuel has increased significantly. Thanks also to those companies, such as Luigi De Rosa’s SMET, which continue to invest in reducing environmental impact. As we have seen, it also has economic advantages.
In this regard, Smet logistics recently acquired a fleet of Iveco Stralis LNG. These vehicles are powered by liquid natural gas. As well as saving the company money, these vehicles also reduce emissions. It is estimated that the new Iveco Stralis has been able to reduce CO2 emissions by 440 tonnes in about a year.
In addition to these private efforts, however, there is also a need for infrastructures. Like the filling stations that are still scarce at the moment: «We are working on this – commented Domenico De Rosa, at il Sole 24 ore – and in the absence of available operators we could open distributors ourselves, the investment is sustainable».