CROWN POINT | How Northwest Indiana and the greater Chicago area have taken another step in reducing dependence on foreign oil and improving air quality was showcased Thursday at the Purdue Technology Center.

In a joint effort with South Shore Clean Cities, Ozinga Ready Mix Concrete Inc. displayed two of its new “green” concrete-mixer trucks entirely powered on compressed natural gas.

“When we decided to purchase new trucks we considered all the various options on the table,” Ozinga spokesman Tim Ozinga said. “Natural gas far exceeded any other option available. We think natural gas has a bright future. It was a no-brainer for us.”

Ozinga said the trucks, which idle constantly, not only reduce emissions but are about 90 percent quieter than their diesel counterparts. The trucks offer approximately the same mileage and they’re experiencing up to a $1.50 a gallon savings compared with diesel.

Savings also have reached up to $2.50 a gallon in alternative fuel vehicles like the concrete mixers, said Carl Lisek, South Shore Clean Cities executive director.

“We’re obviously a fuel-intensive company so that difference is quite significant,” Ozinga said.

Lisek said it’s a blessing that Ozinga is leading the charge to reduce dependence on foreign oil. He hopes others will do the same.

“We want partners,” Lisek said. “We’re asking our governmental agencies that this is the opportunity to work together to reduce our independence on foreign oil and improving air quality and creating more jobs. We feel this is another way to create a better working environment in Northwest Indiana. This is just the beginning.”

Ozinga partnered with McNelius Truck Manufacturing, in Oshkosh, Wis., to develop and field test the compressed natural gas trucks.

“A lot of ready-mix companies are interested in the CNG concept, said Rick Ross, McNelius sales manager. “It’s really catching on.”

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