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Axfood first out with liquefied gas trucks

As part of its drive to reach fossil-free transportation, Axfood AB, Sweden's second-largest food distributor and retailer, has launched the first of five new liquefied gas-powered trucks. To be operated by its logistics subsidiary Dagab, the new vehicles will replace diesel-fuelled trucks in its 140 strong fleet. The plan is to primarily use liquefied biomethane (LBM) derived from anaerobic digestion (AD) of organic waste, including food waste, thereby closing the circular economy loop.

Sweden’s second-largest food distributor and retailer Axfood has launched the first of five new liquefied gas-powered trucks that will be operated by its logistics subsidiary Dagab. According to Axfood’s Sustainability Manager Åsa Domeij, the move is part of the company’s overall fossil-free transportation ambition (photo courtesy Axfood).

The climate issue is extremely important to us. A major advantage of liquid biogas is that it is mainly manufactured from waste, but also that you can replace the diesel in the largest trucks that drive the longest distances and thus consume the most energy. It also contributes to a cleaner environment in the metropolitan areas, as we reduce the number of diesel vehicles, said Åsa Domeij, Sustainability Manager at Axfood.

By upgrading biogas to vehicle grade biomethane and liquefying the biomethane by cooling and pressure, the energy density is increased 600 fold on a volume basis compared to biomethane in a gaseous state thereby enabling long-distance ranges for trucks.

Four of the five trucks come from Volvo Trucks, where the volume carriers, the Volvo FH, and Volvo FM model series are now also available with liquefied natural gas (LNG) powertrains. Fuelled with liquefied biomethane (LBM), environmental performance is even better thanks to a sharp reduction of fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in addition to the low NOx, SOx and particulate matter (PM) emission benefits of fossil LNG compared to diesel.

One major reason we have developed our new LNG trucks is that our analysis shows that biomethane is the alternative fuel that has the potential to replace the most diesel in Europe until 2030. At the same time, we have managed to develop a very energy efficient Euro 6 engine with the same performance as a regular diesel truck. Neither drivers nor hauliers want to compromise, said Jan Strandhede, PR & Information Manager at Volvo Trucks in Sweden.

Starting immediately, the new trucks will be deployed during the autumn and will be stationed at Dagab’s distribution warehouses in Örebro, Gothenburg, Helsingborg, and Jönköping.

This is a bet and a test that we will evaluate. We want to see a fossil-free Sweden and the strategy is to focus on vehicles fuelled by alternatives to today’s fossil fuels. We are now investigating both technology and costs, said Åsa Domeij.

The move also means that Axfood and Dagab will be first out in the Swedish food industry value chain with liquefied gas only powered trucks. Helena Blom, Transport Manager at Dagab, sees a future with exclusively environmentally-friendly trucks.

I think these new gas trucks will eventually drive longer distances. For short distances, we will probably use electric vehicles in the future, said Blom.

A Volvo Trucks electric powertrain showcased in August 2018 at the Elmia Lastbil trucking trade show in Jönköping.

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