Walmart will be looking to deploy vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), moving away from Diesel. With a comparable range of around 700 miles, the switch should provide measurable emissions benefits.
Behind the science: Renewable natural gas is produced by capturing biomethane from decomposing matter and treating it to generate fuel. Uncaptured biomethane has up to 25 times the ability to trap heat in the atmosphere compared to CO2. By capturing it from sources like dairy manure or food waste, studies suggest that renewable natural gas can avoid more emissions than it generates.
Beginning next year, the company will also be introducing Cummins 15-liter natural gas engines, which provide the same power and torque as 15-liter diesel engines but produce lower emissions and require fewer costs per mile. Walmart will also be partnering with Chevron to supply trucks with CNG linked to renewable natural gas.
Walmart plans to be an early adopter of using liquid hydrogen to fuel its forklifts across its grocery distribution centers. Compared to battery-electric, hydrogen provides a greater range (around 400 miles), requires less time to refuel, and is much lighter than its counterpart, allowing the company to haul additional freight. The downside? Higher initial costs could trickle down to the end-consumers.
“We recently worked with Thermo King to haul Walmart’s first-ever refrigerated trailer operated on battery electricity in the U.S.,” said Cortes. “The trailer is designed to run on 100% electricity until the batteries are fully depleted. If the electricity is depleted mid-haul, the refrigeration unit cuts over to diesel. We’re pleased to share that throughout the entirety of the pilot, the trailer ran on electricity 83% of the time.”
The company is also looking to make changes over-the-road, particularly with day cabs. This summer, Walmart will be running a battery-electric day cab proof of concept, partnering with Freightliner’s eCascadia and Nikola’s Tre BEV out of its Fontana, California, distribution center.