Forklift truck drivers have the highest exposure to diesel engine exhaust emissions in the surface industry, equivalent to that of workers in coal mines, according to a survey by the Health & Safety Executive.
CNG-fuelled trucks produce little smoke or odour, are virtually lead-free and reduce noise levels. CompAir spokesman Jacky Joas says: “In an intensive handling application, CNG has a number of advantages over petrol, diesel and electric.
“Not only are the carbon dioxide emission levels lower than any other fuel, but the particulate matter emitted by CNG vehicles is reduced by 98 per cent. This improves air quality, reduces the need for substantial extraction systems and also helps to maintain the cleanliness of goods handled, as there is less atmospheric contamination.”
He also says that CNG forklift trucks are up to 50 per cent quieter than diesel-powered trucks. However, CNG is technically easy to implement where it is already on site, but it has limited economic viability for general use because of the huge costs involved in maintaining the fuel in liquid form. Plus, many remain sceptical of whether measurable emissions show improvement over modern LPG systems.
Materials handling sites using CNG require a special, purpose-built filling station to be built on site to store the fuel. Installation costs mean that to be economically viable, the user probably needs to have a fleet in excess of eight forklifts.