Cleaning up America’s Air with Industry & Government Partnerships

March 27, 2018

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The natural gas vehicle industry continues to pioneer new vehicle and engine technology. Industry and government partnerships to support research and development have assisted in bringing new natural gas vehicle technology to market. Cost-sharing research and development funding reduced risk, while advancing the value proposition for natural gas vehicles (NGVs), leading to a cleaner environment and increased domestic jobs.

There is now a zero-emission equivalent natural gas engine available for class-8 trucks today

NGVAmerica and its members have worked closely with government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), California Energy Commission (CEC), and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to identify technical barriers to further the adoption of natural gas vehicles.

These industry and government partnerships have fostered programs that have led to natural gas vehicles being one of the cleanest vehicles on the road today. Cummins Westport Inc (CWI) announced in January that its 11.9L natural gas engine, the ISX12N, received California Air Resource Board’s (CARB) optional Low NOx standard of 0.02 g/bhp-hr, a 90% reduction in NOx compared to today’s diesel engines. The ISX12N is the first ever class-8 engine to meet CARB’s optional standard, meaning that there is now a zero-emission equivalent engine available for class-8 trucks today. This ground-breaking engine was made possible by industry and government partnerships, including SCAQMD, CEC, SoCalGas and Clean Energy Fuels.

Industry and government partnerships fostered programs leading to natural gas vehicles being some of the cleanest vehicles on the road today

A similar partnership between SCAQMD, CEC, SoCalGas and Gas Technology Institute assisted in funding the development of CWI’s 8.9L natural gas engine, the L9N. Last year, the L9N was also certified to CARB’s optional Low NOx standard, again a 90% reduction in NOx compared to diesel engine certifications. The L9N engine, used in transit and refuse trucks, is directly impacting air quality in neighborhoods today. Both revolutionary engines make natural gas vehicles the most cost-effective and cleanest trucks on the road today.

Vehicles and engines are not the only items that need to be evaluated when transitioning to alternative fuels. Facility upgrades for maintaining alternative fueled vehicles are often overlooked. NGVAmerica’s Technology & Development Committee has a Maintenance Facility Work Group working to educate fleets on the existing facility requirements while also improving future building codes. NGVAmerica and its members have informed the US DOE that there is a need for a greater education effort for alternative fuel vehicle maintenance facilities, and responded by funding two programs:

  • Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will create training and guidance materials for garage facility upgrades and building modifications for facilities that service natural gas, propane, and hydrogen vehicles. The first training course will take place at GTI in Des Plaines, IL on April 4th.
  • Marathon Technical Services USA, Inc. will develop a unified reference guide of design requirements, and provide in-person training and tours that showcase best practices for garage/maintenance facilities that service natural gas, propane, and hydrogen vehicles.

US DOE funded two programs in response to the need for greater education efforts for alternative fuel vehicle maintenance facilities

NGVAmerica has requested funding appropriations for research and development for natural gas vehicles over the past few years. Last year, we were successful in obtaining language in the Fiscal Year 2017 House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill for natural gas vehicle engine research and development. This appropriation led to the US DOE recently announcing that $12 million has been awarded for early stage natural gas engine research and development:

  • Colorado State University – $1.2 million to research ultra-low emissions, high-efficiency heavy duty natural gas engines with optimized combustion chamber designs
  • University of Houston – $2 million to develop a new class of catalysts with low levels of precious metals for natural gas engine emissions control
  • University of Minnesota – $1.1 million to advance low temperature combustion technologies for higher-efficiency natural gas engines
  • National laboratories – $8 million for early stage natural gas engine research and development

The mission of the U.S. Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. One way that this mission can be achieved is by working with the natural gas vehicle industry to identify early stage research and development opportunities that are not yet being developed. NGVAmerica continues to lead discussions to develop industry and government partnerships to advance the use of domestic, clean burning natural gas for transportation.