Natural Gas: A Cleaner-Running Option for Food Truck Fleet
Neapolitan Express' green and high-tech food trucks feature a natural gas engine, a natural-gas tank with a hot water heating system, seven iPads and solar panels.
For Max Crespo of Neapolitan Express, establishing environmental sustainability in your business means going “green all the way.” After experimenting with multiple types of fuel to power his pizza company’s food trucks, he discovered natural gas was the best choice for building a mobile restaurant that was safe and eco-friendly.
“I tried everything,” says Crespo. “You can’t cook with diesel, the noise from the generators was so loud and the smell was terrible. And too much electrical power is needed to run a food truck.”
Crespo first decided to sell pizza from a food truck in 2005 when it was too expensive to rent space near his New York City nightclub. He outfitted his first food truck, a Utilimaster step-van, in 2006.
According to Crespo, “It was built like every other food truck. It was a hodgepodge collection of hydrocarbons all mixed up under one box. You have a spark-igniting engine running on diesel, with a spark-igniting generator running on gasoline and propane used for cooking.”
After operating his food truck for a year, it took some time for Crespo to research and find experts to complete a CNG conversion.
“It took almost two years to figure out everything and get the kinks worked out,” says Crespo. “This isn’t your typical conversion that can be done in a day. We are converting everything on the truck to be able to run off of natural gas, including the stove for cooking.”
The first CNG-powered Neapolitan Express food truck was unveiled by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in February 2013. In the past year, Neapolitan Express has increased that number to three CNG food trucks, with the goal to have 20 trucks by the end of the year.
So what are the advantages to using CNG over other fuels, especially when it comes to operating food trucks?