Gas Vehicles - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Sheffield City Council trialing Gas Vehicles?

What is biomethane?

Why is SCC using biomethane in vehicles?

Where is the biomethane from?

What vehicles are being trialed?

Who will be using the vehicles?

What do you mean by PM10, CO2 and NOx?

 

Why is Sheffield City Council trialing Gas Vehicles? 

Air pollution and greenhouse gases from road traffic exhausts are especially high in areas where there are lots of vehicles, such as town centres and motorways.

As we burn fuels we increase the amount of climate change gases in the atmosphere. Transport accounts for around a quarter of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions from the UK.

The European Commission estimates that air pollutants caused by traffic are responsible for more than 32,000 premature deaths in the UK each year alone. Children living in heavily trafficked streets are more likely to develop chronic respiratory problems and the health impacts from just one form of traffic pollution, called particulate matter, costs up to £21 billion per year.

The biomethane trial aims to improve air quality, tackle climate change, reduce emissions from Sheffield City Council operations and services, lead by example and demonstrate best practice, and encourage the use of clean vehicles in Sheffield. In addition, the natural gas vehicles are considerably quieter than conventional diesel engines.

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What is biomethane?

Biogas is a gas, produced by the breakdown/decay of organic material such as manure, sewage and municipal solid waste, in the absence of oxygen. Biogas is primarily made up of carbon dioxide and methane. Biomethane is produced when biogas is cleaned up to remove carbon dioxide and other impurities.

Biomethane produced from organic waste has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any biofuel. By capturing methane from decomposing organic waste, which would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere, using it as a fuel actually saves greenhouse gas emissions rather than reducing them. Also, by turning it into a valuable fuel, it helps to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfill.

Biomethane is virtually identical to natural gas and can be used as a substitute for natural gas to fuel natural gas vehicles. Unlike natural gas, Biomethane is an entirely renewable and clean fuel which can be used as an alternative automotive fuel to petrol and diesel.

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Why is SCC using biomethane in vehicles?

Natural Gas is extensively used throughout the world as a transport fuel. Biomethane can be used as a renewable transport fuel in vehicles designed to run on compressed natural gas. However, uptake of gas vehicles in the UK has been slow and there are currently few natural gas vehicles in the UK. Similarly the infrastructure to supply biomethane or natural gas as a vehicle fuel is sparse.

Natural gas or biomethane fuelled vehicles have extremely low emissions of local pollutants, including NOx and particulates when compared to modern petrol and diesel vehicles. By replacing diesel and petrol vehicles with biomethane, it would have a beneficial effect on local air quality.  The trial will help facilitate the growth and acceptance of biomethane as a road transport fuel.

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Where is the biomethane from?

A local company based at Meadowhall, Chesterfield Biogas, has supplied both the refuelling station, and biomethane for the trial. The biomethane gas itself is produced at a landfill site and transported to the refuelling station in the form of a skid unit comprising of 105 high pressurised cylinders. When the gas runs out, the skid unit will be sent away to be refilled. 

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What vehicles are being trialed?

SCC is trialling 7 VW Eco Fuel Caddy vans, 2 Mercedes Sprinter NGT vans, and 1 Mercedes NGT Minibus. For more information on the VW Caddy Eco Fuels please visit http://www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk/caddy/ecofuel/. The Mercedes Sprinter and VW Caddy are capable of operating on natural gas and biomethane fuel.

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Who will be using the vehicles?

The Park Ranger Services within the council have replaced 5 of their current fleet with the new gas vehicles.  The Park Rangers carry out many family events across the city, including guided walks, practical work with community groups and education sessions with schools. The Rangers also work with numerous ‘Friends of the Parks’ groups, encouraging communities to get involved and raise awareness of their local environment. Promoting the use of alternatively fuelled vehicles via the Ranger staff will give Sheffield City Council the opportunity to reach thousands of people across the city during the trial period. 

The Air Quality Team within the Council have replaced 1 of their existing LPG van with a VW Eco fuel Caddy, which will be used to assess air quality standards in the City.

The Enforcement team within the Councils Environmental Protection Service have added 1 Eco fuel Caddy and 1 Mercedes Sprinter to their current fleet. The Enforcement officers carry out enforcement work around fly tipping and waste.

Groundwork Sheffield, a local charity working in the East of Sheffield, will be using a Mercedes Sprinter to carry out energy saving initiatives as part of the Green Doctor scheme. The Green Doctors carry out home visits to provide advice on energy saving measures as well as undertake insulation work in homes.  To find our more about the work of the Green Doctors visit http://www.yorkshire.groundwork.org.uk/sheffield.aspx

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What do you mean by PM10, CO2 and NOx?

Road transport emissions in Sheffield are made up of 58% PM10, 36% NOx and 13% CO2.

PM10 or Particulate Matter is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. The particles are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems.

NOx or Nitrogen Oxides are the primary cause of ozone pollution (smog). This pollutant also contributes to acid rain, reduced visibility in urban areas and respiratory problems such as asthma.

CO2 or Carbon Dioxide is a heavy odourless greenhouse-gas that contributes to global warming.

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