Ruan and dairy farmer launch methane-powered truck project

Methane produced from Indiana dairy cows will be used to power 42 Ruan Transportation trucks hauling the cows’ milk in a three-year experiment developed by John Ruan III and Mike McCloskey, owner of Fair Oaks Farms

Methane produced from Indiana dairy cows will be used to power 42 Ruan Transportation trucks hauling the cows’ milk in a three-year experiment developed by John Ruan III and Mike McCloskey, owner of Fair Oaks Farms.

Manure produced by McCloskey’s 35,000 dairy cows is being processed into methane and blended with natural gas to fuel trucks that will travel a 650-mi. radius from the farm to dairies in the upper Midwest, according to the Des Moines Register.

Two pumping stations have been built in Indiana to distribute the fuel by Clean Energy Fuel Corp., a Seal Beach, CA, company founded by T. Boone Pickens Jr., a leader in the natural gas movement.

Long a proponent of natural gas as an alternative fuel, Pickens said there is a 200-year supply of natural gas within U.S. borders in underground rock formations. Natural gas could emerge as a formidable rival to biodiesel, the paper reports. Biodiesel for the truck market is currently produced from soy beans in 14 plants in Iowa.

If natural gas works as an economical fuel in trucks, said Benjamin McLean, Ruan’s chief information officer, truckers will be able to avoid expensive equipment upgrades necessary to meet federal emissions standards.

“We’re talking an expense of $8,000 to $10,000 per truck,” he said.

“Right now we have 1,300 truck tractors that can run on natural gas, and the Ruan experiment is a very important development for us,” James Harger, chief marketing officer for Clean Energy told the Register. “We see the truck fleet as the first step. It will take much longer to convert the nation’s automobile system to natural gas.”

Clean Energy will build natural gas fueling sites at Pilot Flying J truck stops in Iowa along Interstate highways 80 and 35 within the next 24 months. Pickens has aggressively lobbied for tax credits for retailers who will pay the $1.5 million to $2 million to install new natural gas-dispensing tanks and pumps.

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