Natural gas is a cleaner more affordable transportation fuel. Today, natural gas vehicles operate in Canada in a variety of applications including marine, rail, medium and heavy duty trucks, light duty transit and off road.
Medium and Heavy Duty
Significant numbers of medium and heavy duty natural gas powered vehicles are currently operating throughout North America, delivering lower GHG emissions and fuel savings to these fleets and the communities they serve. In Canada there is an extensive list of available original equipment manufacturers (OEM) vehicles. In addition to factory built options, fleet owners can also use aftermarket conversion kits as a way to improve the performance of existing fleet vehicles.
Almost two-thirds of all refuse vehicles purchased in the last 5 years use CNG. The opportunity to reduce the operating costs of refuse collection vehicles is an important consideration for municipalities looking to keep local tax rates low. The environmental benefits of these natural gas powered vehicles have contributed toward better air quality and meeting local GHG emissions reductions targets. In addition to air quality benefits, engine operations have helped extend waste collection times, meaning refuse companies are able to begin their operations earlier in the day resulting in increased efficiencies and further reduced costs.
Canada can boast early leaders in the waste-to-fuel use of renewable natural gas (RNG) in the refuse sector. The City of Surrey is one of Canada’s early adopters, with many other large urban municipalities following suit in developing RNG facilities.
Those using natural gas refuse fleets include:
Hamilton Street Railway was the first Canadian transit agency to develop CNG busses in 1985. While Canadian transit agencies were early pioneers given the emissions reductions opportunity and cost savings, widespread adoption in the U.S. helped to propel the development of natural gas engines from the early Cummins Westport Gas C engines to the current N series of near zero emission engines.
Those operating CNG bus fleets include:
- Nanaimo Transit – BC Transit
- Coast Mountain Bus – Translink Vancouver
- Whistler Transit – BC Transit
- Kamloops Transit – BC Transit
- Red Deer Transit
- Calgary Transit
- Medicine Hat Transit
- Hamilton Street Railway
CNG busses deliver cost effective emissions reductions to Canadian communities. With the addition of renewable natural gas (RNG), municipalities can use CNG busses to chart toward net zero emissions transit vehicles, converting municipal waste sources into fuel.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) such as Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler offer a limited number of natural gas equipped vehicles. These vehicles are primarily light and mid-duty truck and van options, though engines sizes range from smaller 2.5 litre displacements, up to 6 litre displacements found in larger pick-up trucks and specialty up-fit vehicles.
In addition to warranty approved vehicles, there are a number of firms that offer vehicle conversion kits that can be fitted to most vehicle.
For more details about automobile repair facilities offering full package vehicle conversions visit:
The use of natural gas in rail is currently at the test stage of development in Canada, but the concept of using LNG for locomotives goes back to the 1980s and 1990s, when U.S. based railways such as Burlington Northern Railroad and Union Pacific operated dual fuel and natural gas powered locomotives on a limited basis. More recently, the Association of American Railroads created a technical advisory group that is developing key codes and standards for the use of LNG and CNG for rail applications.
In Canada, manufacturers like General Electric and Caterpillar have been piloting LNG or CNG locomotives. Westport has created a Canadian-made technology called a Westport high-pressure direct injection (HPDI) that provides a small diesel pilot spray to start the combustion for natural gas to be directly injected. Several rail companies, including CN in Canada, have tested the technology and/or are considering future pilot projects.
Learn more about natural gas’ potential for rail applications
There are now over 150 LNG-fuelled ships (excluding gas carriers) in operation or under development globally, including ferries, cargo vessels, platform supply vessels, and tankers. Using LNG can offer significant cost savings for operators and is a way to comply with current and future international regulations governing emissions from marine vessels.
According to a 2014 report entitled LNG: A Marine Fuel for Canada’s West Coast, LNG in marine vessels can lower SOx emissions from ships by 90 per cent and NOx by 35 (for diesel cycle engines) to 85 (for Otto cycle engines) per cent. Using LNG as a marine fuel can also reduce particulate matter by 85 per cent, CO2 by 29 per cent and GHGs by 19 per cent on a CO2-equivalent basis.
In 2017 BC Ferries began upgrading its five Spirit Class vessels to operate on LNG. The project is set to be completed in 2019. With these upgrades, the company expects a CO2 emissions reduction of 12,000 tonnes annually. It has also started the construction of three new Salish-Class vessels that can operate on LNG and one is now in operation in British Columbia.
The Societé des Traversiers du Quebec has also ordered ferries that will operate on LNG supplied by Énergir Transport. Larger ocean operating vessels are also looking at LNG for retrofit and new build applications.
Off Road vehicles such as mining trucks are ideally suited for liquefied natural gas (LNG) because of their large fuel use and the environmental and economic benefits natural gas offers.
Off road vehicles such as mining trucks traditionally operate on diesel. Natural gas has been used in both light duty and heavy duty applications, through aftermarket conversions, and with the entry of Caterpillar offering a dedicated natural gas engine for mine haul operations. In the first case of its kind, Teck Resources Ltd., a Canadian mining company, has a pilot project to use LNG provided and transported by FortisBC to fuel six of its haul trucks at the Fording River steelmaking coal operation in southeast British Columbia. With this pilot project, there is the potential to eliminate approximately 35,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually at the operation site and reduce fuel costs by more than $20 million annually by adopting this hybrid fuel. As new emissions standards take effect in Canada, many fleets may be increasingly interested in natural gas as an option.
Light duty applications
Using natural gas can significantly reduce the associated emissions which can be helpful in many enclosed working environments. Natural gas conversions are available for forklift applications. Similar to forklifts, ice resurfacing equipment can also be converted to run on natural gas.