Isuzu explores alternate fuel solutions

Prototype testing of dual-fuel and compressed natural gas commercial vehicles is underway in South Africa

Isuzu Motors South Africa (IMSAF) is evaluating trucks that use alternate propulsion technologies which may be suitable for the African market.

“We’ve built a handful of prototypes, which are currently being tested in real world conditions on South African roads by a number of Isuzu fleet customers. If the testing is successful, in future we could see more of these types of trucks paving the way for a greener motoring landscape,” says Dominic Rimmer, IMSAF’s executive for technical services.

He says Isuzu’s N-Series range of trucks has demonstrated its capabilities in meeting demands and needs of a variety of transport operators, making it a good starting point for a local alternate-propulsion strategy. Accordingly, a NPR300 version fitted with a Stop-Start fuel-saving system has been converted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

“We’ve created a more environmentally friendly truck while reducing operating costs,” says Rimmer. “CNG-powered engines emit very low levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbon (HC) with virtually no particulate matter (PM) emitted at all.

“Another characteristic of natural gas is that it produces very little carbon dioxide (CO2). Isuzu produces three-way catalytic converter equipped CNG vehicles that achieve an excellent low-pollution emission performance.”

Rimmer says one of the advantages of CNG-fuelled engines is that power and torque outputs closely match those of diesel-fuelled counterparts. Further, he says the company has developed a dual-fuel truck – based on an Isuzu FTR 850 AMT model – which runs on mixture of CNG and diesel utilising a standard diesel engine.

Benefits of the system include easy switching between the diesel and gas mixture and diesel alone, with little effect on power or torque. Additionally, the truck’s carbon footprint is lowered and engine noise reduced.

“The initiatives are in line with Isuzu’s Safety, Economy and Environment (SEE) programme,” says Rimmer. “We are continuously searching for efficient transport solutions that reduce impact on the environment and enable our customers to support South Africa’s planned Green Transport strategy.”

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