A solution to rising fuel prices for commercial trucks may be compressed natural gas (CNG), which is increasingly being considered as a viable alternative to diesel with programs underway to convert normal truck engines to CNG.

Despite rising gas prices the commercial truck industry can’t afford to cut back on its routes as the demand for trucking services continues to grow all across the nation. The commercial trucking industry needs to be able to put more trucks and more drivers on the road in the coming years but rising fuel prices is making that more and more challenging. However, commercial trucking officials are encouraged that experiments with energy efficient engines and are beginning to believe that CNG trucks might begin to help transition the commercial trucking industry into a cheaper way to operate, especially with the recent announcement that 3M and Chesapeake Energy are working together to manufacture a variety of compressed natural gas tanks for use by commercial trucks.

The new CNG tanks developed through the 3M and Chesapeake partnership will work to reduce costs while increasing performance by making the cost per mile much lower that with traditional diesel engines. Plus, the CNG tanks are also less expensive than traditional commercial tanks, according to CNG officials.

“This partnership brings together two leading companies from different sectors, both committed to advancing the natural gas transportation fuel market,” Aubrey K. McClendon, Chesapeake’s CEO, said in a statement. “We applaud 3M for recognizing the future of natural gas as a low-cost, cleaner alternative to gasoline, and for creating innovative tank technology that will make natural gas vehicles more affordable and accessible to fleets and individual consumers nationwide.”

McClendon said that Chesapeake has pledged $10 million toward design, market development support and a commitment to use the new tanks for its own corporate fleet of trucks.

Trucking officials are welcoming any news of energy efficiency developments in the commercial trucking industry as shipping demand continues to grow and the need for more trucks is also growing.

During a presentation last year, American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves spoke about the government’s desire to see fuel efficiency standards increased and he warned that is alternative fuel sources are not found, these standards are going to be costly for commercial truck carriers. CNG might be one solution to meeting increased fuel efficiency standards, while offsetting the high costs.

These solutions are being sought because more and more trucks are going to be needed in the coming years to help meet rising demands and that means more and more professionally trained truck drivers are going to be hired. At Diesel Driving Academy’s CDL training program, students are being trained to enter this growing career field and help meet the high demand carriers have to hire more professionally trained drivers.