One of the key factors limiting the use of compressed natural gas in trucks has been the question of range. A commercial vehicle body and trailer manufacturer based in Germany may have a solution -- putting extra CNG tanks on the trailer.

Kogel Trailer GmbH & Co. KG has created a CNG module that works on many of its semi-trailers, which it says triples the range of gas-powered trucks. The trailer module acts as an additional storage unit for natural gas.

The additional tanks in the Kogel CNG module are mounted in the pallet box or on the vehicle frame ex works or can be easily retrofitted. The gas tanks installed contain 1,100 liters (about 300 gallons) of natural gas. The company says this could allow tractor-trailers to travel over 1,000 kilometers (over 600 miles) without refueling.

Fast and simple coupling of the trailer to the truck is performed by using a special connection plug system that operates in a plug-and-play manner, says the company. The Kogel CNG modules that are installed in a pallet box can slide out for simple operation and maintenance.

There is a weight penalty of 1,155 pounds, but the company says the lower payload can be more than made up for by the fuel savings.

Watch for a major feature on natural gas in the August issue of HDT.