Real-world activity, fuel use, and emissions of heavy-duty compressed natural gas refuse trucks

Gurdas S. Sandhu, H. Christopher Frey, Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, Elizabeth Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Over 50% of new refuse truck sales have been compressed natural gas (CNG). Compared to diesel, CNG is less expensive on diesel gallon equivalent (dge) basis. This study quantifies the real-world fuel use and tailpipe exhaust emissions from three front- and three side-loader refuse trucks, each with a spark ignition CNG engine, three-way catalyst, and similar gross weight. Measurements were made at 1 Hz using a portable emissions measurement system (PEMS). Inter-cycle and inter-vehicle variability is quantified. Effect of vehicle weight was analyzed and comparisons were made with MOVES predicted cycle average emission rates. In total, about 220,000 s of data covering 490 miles of operation were recorded. The average fuel economy was 1.9 miles per dge. On average the trucks spent 53% of time in idle, which includes trash collection activity. The average speeds were 10 mph and 5 mph, for front- and side-loader trucks, respectively. Overall, compared to side-loader trucks, front-loader trucks had 55% better fuel economy and 60% lower emission rates. Compared to diesel trucks, CNG truck cycle average NOx and PM emission rates, at 1.2 g/mile and 0.006 g/mile respectively, were substantially lower while CO and HC rates, at 29 g/mile and 6 g/mile respectively, were considerably higher. Fuel use and CO2 emissions rates increased by 10% due to increase in truck weight during trash collection, while CO emissions rates increased by up to 30%. Compared to measured values, MOVES estimated cycle average fuel use and CO2 emissions were 25% lower, CO emissions are 70% lower, and NOx emissions were 200% higher. Results from this study can be used to improve solid waste life cycle and tailpipe emission factor models and, when combined with previous studies on diesel refuse trucks, evaluate the effect on fuel use and emissions from adoption of CNG refuse trucks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number143323
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Mar 20 2021


  • Compressed natural gas
  • Heavy-duty vehicles
  • PEMS
  • Refuse truck
  • Tailpipe emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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