Representing the RCGI, Professor Dominique Mouette spoke on the substitution of diesel by natural gas in the trucks on the highways of the State of São Paulo, as well as in the buses on the streets of the capital city

As the Coordinator of Project 25, which studies the implementation of a Blue Corridor in the State of São Paulo, Professor Dominique Mouette represented the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) in two events at the end of November: The International Seminar on Mobility and Natural Gas, in Rio de Janeiro, November 22 and 23; and the Sweden Brazil Innovation Weeks 2018, which took place in São Paulo, November 26. During the seminar, accompanied by researcher Pedro Gerber Machado, she discussed the advantages of substituting diesel with Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in cargo vehicles in the State of São Paulo. During the second presentation, she dealt with the gradual substitution of diesel-powered buses by buses fueled by natural gas in the city of São Paulo.

The conference held in the capital of Rio de Janeiro brought together business people from the transportation sector, influencers of public policies, researchers, opinion makers, sector associations, piped gas utility companies, and other professionals interested in the subject. Dominique gave a 20-minute presentation on the use of LNG for cargo transportation, including the results of models of the emission of pollutants and GHGs. The costs of fuel for the end-user were shown, in terms of the substitution of diesel fuel by LGN in the fleet of heavy vehicles that circulate in the State of São Paulo.

“We work with two basic scenarios: the first one, restricted to seven of the 16 regions into which the State is divided, and the second, which is expanded to include all of the regions. In each of these scenarios, we take into consideration two options for the distribution of LNG. In the restricted scenario, we propose the possibility of liquefaction being centralized in the city of Paulínia, as well as the liquefaction process being performed locally, taking into consideration several points along the existing gas ducts for this to take place. In the expanded scenario, we considered local liquefaction, as well as a hybrid system, which includes both local and central liquefaction,” Dominique explained.

Pedro Gerber says that the most important thing was showing that the use of natural gas in trucks assists in reducing the pollution in the atmosphere and, also, in lowering the fuel costs of transport companies, keeping in mind that there will be an initial investment in the vehicle. The truck powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which will probably be sold in Brazil very soon, because many dealerships are hurrying to meet this need, could cost up to 11% less than a diesel-powered one.

“At the present time, natural gas is the best option for substituting diesel-powered trucks, in terms of both engine technology and fuel price for the end user. It also greatly reduces pollution levels in the atmosphere, as well as particulate materials, although it doesn’t enjoy the same broad advantages with regard to reducing GHGs.”

Within the scenarios considered by Dominique’s presentation, which focused on trucks powered by LNG, the gas would be liquefied in Brazil. “In this case, the price of the LNG, per MMBTU, would be approximately 30% cheaper than that of diesel oil. If you consider imported LNG, which costs less, the difference could be even greater,” Gerber said.

Buses running on natural gas – At the second event, the Professor Mouette gave about a 15-minute presentation on the costs of powering the buses of the city of São Paulo with natural gas, compared to the costs of other technologies. “My aim was to show how natural gas can reduce the city’s transportation costs, since one of the big problems of public transportation is the high cost of using diesel fuel. Lowering the cost of public transportation benefits the low-income population. Many people still go to work on foot, because they have no money to pay for public transportation,” Dominique stated.

In a comparison of the composition of the main costs of nine different technologies that can be used in public urban transportation (diesel, biodiesel B20, biodiesel B100, ethanol, natural gas, electricity, hybrid, trolley buses, and hydrogen), natural gas was the one that showed the lowest cost.

“Regarding the need of subsidies for technology, it also came out ahead. Electric buses, in order to be viable, require another R$ 2.41 per passenger, but buses running on natural gas would require a negative subsidy: R$ -0.33 per passenger. The use of biodiesel B20 is what has the closest cost to that of natural gas: the subsidy needed per passenger, in this case, would be R$ 0.02”, she explained, citing the Comparative Study of Vehicular Technologies for Urban Buses, done by Sistran Engenharia and published in 2014 by the National Public Transportation Association (ANTP) and by the Municipal Urban Transportation Company (EMTU).