5 Tips for LNG refueling
Refueling LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is a little different from refueling at a diesel filling station. Safety is paramount when refueling LNG. By making drivers aware of safe LNG refueling and by paying attention to quick and effective troubleshooting, together we can prevent downtime of our filling stations. In this way, we ensure that our network operates as optimally as possible.
Truck Tank Pressure
Marcel Ernes, Manager Operations at Rolande, is responsible for the ins and outs of our filling stations. ‘Correctly using the resources at the station ensures that refuelling goes smoothly and efficiently for drivers and that they’re back on the road quickly. In most cases, the problems we encounter – and of which sometimes lead to glitches – can be prevented. One simple example is when a fill-up doesn’t go smoothly on account of the pressure in the truck tank being too high (higher than >10bar). The driver can easily remedy this by connecting the vapour return line and reducing the pressure in their tank.’
Temperature and Nozzle Connection
Another factor is the LNG temperature and the connection of the nozzle to the tank. Marcel: ‘LNG is dispensed from a storage tank with an internal temperature of -150 degrees. Accordingly, you can imagine that it takes some time to cool down, especially if refueling hasn’t taken place recently. In addition, it is essential that the dispenser nozzle is cleaned well and properly connected to the truck tank. If the connection isn’t right, leakage may occur. We sometimes see drivers treating the nozzle roughly. This rough treatment can cause damage that prevents the system from fully connecting during subsequent refueling with malfunction a potential outcome. Although the system may look easy on the surface, there are all kinds of valves just beneath it which also experience the same cooling and heating. Malfunctions can also cause increased wear and tear on certain components. Fortunately, we have most parts available from stock, but prevention is, of course, better than cure.’
Haste makes waste. The same is true for LNG refueling. Marcel sometimes sees drivers in too much of a hurry to fill up and urges them to take their time. ‘There is an air gun to clean the nozzle at all dispensers. Condensation can form as a result of the system cooling down and heating up again with each refueling. If you don’t use the air gun to spray off this condensation before you start refueling, ice will form and you won’t be able to get the nozzle off as easily. At each dispenser, you will find a watering can and hot water tap which you can use to thaw frozen nozzles and easily disconnect them.’
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Finally, you have driver personal safety. The temperature of LNG can cause the dispenser and truck tank lines to become extremely cold. ‘Wearing the right PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) prevents burns and frostbite. Unfortunately, we are still seeing too many drivers wearing shorts or short sleeves, especially in summer. While this is the employers’ responsibility, we actively address this issue with drivers and aim to make them aware of the importance of proper PPE.’
Despite the fact that Rolande’s filling stations are unmanned, we are quick to act in the event of malfunctions. Marcel: ‘Our refueling instructions are clear, so 24/7 manpower isn’t required at our stations. This saves costs, especially for the customer. Nevertheless, we find it extremely important to be available and accessible to our customers at all times. If a problem does occur at a station, it can be solved in two ways. In case of complex breakdowns, a service technician will go out to fix the malfunction on site. Nowadays, we can also remotely fix a large proportion of malfunctions through the intercom. We have access to live Closed Circuit TV and are able to resolve a great deal of issues behind the scenes. In both situations, we are committed to fixing malfunctions as quickly as possible and to ensuring that at least one of the two dispensers remains operational. We get there as soon as possible if there is only one dispenser at a station. At all costs, we want to avoid drivers arriving at a station and not being able to refuel.’
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