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Sysco unveils retrofitted natural gas-fueled truck

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2015 10:57 a.m. MDT

Greg Dahl of Applied LNG Technologies explains how the Sysco truck's new engine works.   (August Miller, Deseret News) Greg Dahl of Applied LNG Technologies explains how the Sysco truck's new engine works. (August Miller, Deseret News)

WEST JORDAN — They retrofitted all their lighting on a gigantic scale and introduced serious recycling efforts companywide, including steps to help employees with personal recycling. On Friday, food service distributor Sysco Intermountain rolled out its latest green project, a tractor-truck retrofitted to use compressed natural gas.

The tractor averages more than 50,000 miles a year along the Wasatch Front and the company says the retrofit will reduce particulate matter by 400 pounds annually. The CNG also will reduce the amount of diesel fuel the company uses by almost 15,000 gallons.

Friday's event was a gathering not only of dignitaries — including U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch; Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon; the governor's energy adviser, Dianne Nielson; and Utah Clean Cities director Robin Erickson — but a round-up of CNG-converted vehicles, too. Various area companies brought their own logo-emblazoned, clean-burning CNG vehicles for a field trip show-and-tell. And Falcon Ridge Elementary provided school children for the event.

During a question-and-answer session, Hatch got a big laugh with his answer to one student's question about where the CNG comes from. "We're loaded with it," he said of Utah, noting that he's working on a bill that offers tax incentives and promotes use of alternative fuels.

The cost of the Sysco tractor-truck's conversion was covered as part of a $14.9 million grant Utah received from the U.S. Department of Energy, administered by the clean air coalition, which has 23 grant partners who will use part of the money for various projects.

Efforts to retrofit the vehicle involved CH4 Energy, which had the technical expertise needed for the job, and Cummins Rocky Mountain, an authorized CNG engine distributor, which supplied the vehicle's engine.

Other green policies Sysco Intermountain embraces include mandatory, monitored 60-mph maximum speed policies for company vehicles, a no-idling policy and on-board software to monitor compliance. The company has also changed its deliveries to follow the most direct routes from Point A to Point B, said Tom Kesteloot, Sysco's president and chief executive officer.

The energy grant also will fund new refueling stations for CNG, a liquefied form of CNG called L/CNG and biodiesel fuels, and upgrades to existing stations. It will also be used to pay for CGN, L/CNG and hybrid vehicles.

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