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Published: Wednesday, 10/16/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

UPS switching to natural gas to raise efficiency of its big rigs

Firm hopes to have Maumee facility ready by spring

A UPS truck is parked and ready for fuel at a Liquified Natural Gas station. The shipping giant plans to build one at its Maumee cargo facility on Holland Road. A UPS truck is parked and ready for fuel at a Liquified Natural Gas station. The shipping giant plans to build one at its Maumee cargo facility on Holland Road.

Corrected version: Amount UPS is spending has been changed.

Package shipping giant UPS Inc. is expanding the fuel-efficiency of its trucking fleet, and part of that effort will include building a new Liquefied Natural Gas fueling station at its Maumee cargo facility at 1550 Holland Rd.

The facility will be ready by next May, and it is among nine new LNG stations Atlanta-based UPS is building in Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The company already has begun construction on four other LNG stations in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and California.

Mike Chavez, manager for UPS plant engineering, said the cost of the Maumee station will not be disclosed, but the company is spending $68 million to construct all 13 of its LNG stations. The Maumee location will not create any jobs, he said.

Liquefied Natural Gas is predominantly methane that has been reduced to a liquid state and has a higher energy density than diesel. That makes it more cost efficient to transport over long distances where natural gas pipelines don’t exist. In a tractor-trailer fleet, LNG enables a vehicle to go farther on the same volume of fuel.

UPS has already purchased 1,000 LNG-fueled tractor-trailers that will displace more than 24 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. The company has used LNG-powered vehicles since 2002.

“The natural gas industry needs companies to commit to using natural gas to help establish a reliable alternative to traditional fuel, and that is just what UPS is doing,” David Abney, UPS chief operating officer, said in a statement. “The UPS strategy is both environmentally friendly and economically viable. LNG is becoming more readily available, plus it’s more insulated from market volatility than diesel fuel.”

Mr. Abney said that UPS’s goal is to reach one billion miles driven by its alternative fuel and advance technology fleet by 2017. It already has more than 2,700 alternative-fuel and advanced technology vehicles in use, including all-electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquid propane gas, and biomethane.

Mr. Chavez said the company’s diesel-powered tractor-trailers will be retired as they wear out. The company will be running LNG-powered tractor-trailers to the Maumee facility, which is why it needed an LNG fuel station in the Toledo area.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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