What's with the cows?
You have likely reached this page after scanning the QR code on the side of our newest vehicle and you are wondering why we have chosen to display a cow's posterior on the side of our trucks. The answer is simple, it's how we power this new vehicle. Yes, it runs on cow gas.
The Bluewater Recycling Association has been using compressed natural gas (CNG) to fuel most of its fleet since 2014. It has enabled us to reduce smog generating emissions by 90% in those vehicles. As a side benefit, our vehicles are also 90% quieter when collecting in your neighbourhood and this is accomplished while remaining fiscally responsible since using natural gas costs significantly less than diesel. Renewable natural gas allows us to improve our environmental performance even more.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel because it is made from biogenic sources formed over millions of years by the action of heat and pressure on organic materials. Alternatively, renewable natural gas (RNG), also known as biomethane, is a pipeline-quality vehicle fuel. It is produced by purifying biogas, which is generated by the anaerobic digestion of organic materials such as waste from livestock. RNG qualifies as an advanced biofuel. Because RNG is chemically identical to fossil-derived conventional natural gas, it can use the existing natural gas distribution system but must be compressed for use in vehicles.
We use natural gas because it is clean burning, plentiful, and it makes our trucks a lot quieter. This new vehicle essentially runs on the same type of fuel with the same benefits except it comes from cows. Specifically, cow manure is digested creating natural gas and a soil amendment. Rather than releasing the gas into the atmosphere causing odours and damaging the environment, we use it to power this vehicle.
Anaerobic digestion is "a process employing heat and beneficial bacteria in an oxygen-free environment to break down organic materials and produce a methane-rich gas mixture (biogas), which can be purified to produce a renewable form of natural gas (RNG)". Natural gas produced by the anaerobic digestion of renewable sources can directly displace CNG as a fuel for heavy trucks.
Natural Gas Facts
Natural gas is an odorless, gaseous mixture of hydrocarbons which is predominantly made up of methane (CH4). It currently accounts for about 37% of the energy used in Canada. About 17% of the fuel goes to electric power production and the remaining is split between residential (14%), such as heating and cooking, and commercial and industrial uses (69%). Although natural gas is a proven, reliable alternative fuel that has long been used to power natural gas vehicles, only about 0.05% is used for transportation fuel.
A switch from conventional diesel vehicles to natural gas vehicles (NGVs) has the potential to result in lower levels of emissions, including NOx and PM. Overall, CNG is a clean-burning fuel and performs well against current vehicle emissions standards. In addition, CNG vehicles produce lower levels of strong-smelling fumes and are 50% to 90% quieter than diesel vehicles which is important for operations in residential areas.
CNG is produced by compressing natural gas to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. To provide an adequate driving range, CNG is stored onboard a vehicle in a compressed gaseous state at a pressure of up to 3,600 pounds per square inch (psi).
CNG currently powers about 175,000 U.S. vehicles and more than 23 million vehicles worldwide. CNG vehicles are a good choice for high-mileage (high fuel-use) fleets—such as buses, medium and heavy-duty trucks, and refuse vehicles—that are centrally fueled or operate within a limited area or along a route with natural gas fueling stations. The advantages of natural gas as an alternative fuel include its domestic production, established distribution network, relatively low cost, and emissions benefits.
Heavy-duty natural gas vehicles can provide small to moderate GHG reduction benefits compared to diesel throughout the fuel life cycle. Because renewable natural gas (RNG), also known as biomethane, is chemically identical to fossil natural gas, yet yields far fewer life cycle green house gas (GHG) emissions, the blending of even relatively small quantities of RNG with fossil natural gas can provide significant life cycle GHG emission benefits.