HOUSTON - GE and Clean Energy Fuels are partnering to expand “America’s Natural Gas Highway,” which is a network of fueling stations that will offer liquefied natural gas for heavy-duty trucks. Clean Energy is purchasing two of GE’s ecomagination-qualified MicroLNG plants from GE Oil & Gas. These modular units, which are designed to quickly liquefy natural gas without taking up a lot of space, will support fueling stations along transportation corridors across the U.S.

The MicroLNG plants will produce up to 250,000 gallons per day, according to GE Oil & Gas. The plant is designed to be able to produce up to 1 million gallons. The LNG fuel produced by these plants will be sold primarily at Pilot-Flying J truck stops. GE and Clean Energy are still planning the locations of these first two LNG plants. Beyond the plants themselves, GE Energy Financial Services is providing up to $200 million in financing for the two GE MicroLNG plants.

In terms of savings and emissions reductions, GE Oil & Gas and Clean Fuels state LNG can cut a fleet operator’s fuel costs by more than 25% compared with diesel. Also, the LNG produced with this MicroLNG plant technology can be used to fuel approximately 28,000 heavy-duty trucks, thereby cutting C02 emissions by 139,000 metric tons (assuming the average truck travels 14,000 miles per year).

According to GE, the scope of the agreement includes project installation. The whole project entails not only the systems used for liquefaction but also those for the complete process design, from the pre-treatment of the gas to the storage system.

Clean Energy stated it expects to complete roughly 70 LNG stations by the end of 2012 and plans to open more in 2013. As LNG is designed for use in heavy-duty vehicles, Clean Energy noted that in 2013, four major manufacturers will introduce the Cummins Westport 12LLNG engine, which is the optimum size for long-haul Class 8 trucks, which could lead to a greater number of these vehicles on U.S. roads and fueling up at these new sites.