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Europe’s first cryogenic LNG rail tank car unveiled

Enthüllung LNG-WagenWagon leasing company VTG Aktiengesellschaft and Chart Ferox, a supplier of distribution systems for natural gas, showcased the first tank wagon for transporting LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) in Europe.

The tank wagon makes it possible to supply Europe with environmentally-friendly natural gas in future using environmentally-friendly rail transport regardless of the presence of pipelines.

“We are very pleased to be able to present our LNG prototype at the world’s leading logistics exhibition to the public here in Munich today,” states Fischer, adding, “three years from the project launch, the wagon has finally taken on physical form and can be touched and tested by customers and any other interested parties.” Carey also adds, “We are expanding and strengthening the Chart product portfolio with this new mode of transport. We are extremely pleased to be a part of this innovative development and crafting this opportunity to make LNG fit for transport by rail.”

Innovative design makes transport by rail possible

VTG has developed and built two prototypes for transporting LNG by rail. Chart Ferox built the tank. It is fitted with special insulation, which allows the cryogenic (-162° C) liquefied natural gas to remain in the tank wagon for up to six weeks. A vacuum has been created for the gas for this purpose between the inner tank and the surrounding outer tank. Special suspension and bearing technology for the inner tank inside the outer tank afforded particular effort in its development. Extensive vibration calculations and tests needed to be performed by the VTG and the Chart Ferox designers for this purpose. 

Operational authorization for the wagon was issued by the German Federal Railway Authority in mid-April of this year making now series production possible. To receive authorization, all the pertinent tests laid out in the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) in accordance with the current railway technical regulations for this type of wagon were carried out in advance.

VTG envisages enormous potential in Europe for LNG as an energy source. Not only industries with large energy requirements, but also maritime and other means of transport as well as municipals and regions without connection to a natural gas pipeline are seen as potential customers. To underline this, VTG has signed a cooperation agreement with Brunsbüttel Ports GmbH to confirm their joint commitment to LNG as an environmentally-friendly fuel with a bright future.

LNG: A fuel with a future

Traditionally, natural gas is transported in gaseous form through pipelines. In contrast, owing to it having 600 times less volume, cryogenic liquefied natural gas can be transported by ship, truck and tank containers at a temperature of minus 162 degrees Celsius. Using rail as an environmentally-friendly mode of transport for LNG has now been added to this as an alternative. By doing so, two LNG tank wagons will replace four trucks and five tank containers on the road.

Given the increasing uncertainty concerning the long-term supply of gas to Europe, the LNG tank wagon represents a solution for alternative and independent gas supply concepts. Within the energy mix, liquefied natural gas represents a proven energy source in numerous countries.

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