It Will Be the Basis for Next Iteration of Onboard CNG Technology
As ObDI Names a Five-Member Commercialization Advisory Board
Oregon’s Onboard Dynamics, Inc. has selected the 6.2-liter “Boss” V-8 engine from Ford to further its work on compressed natural gas vehicles that can compress their own natural gas.
ObDI’s idea is to use a vehicle’s own engine as a compressor for fueling: when fueling, ignition is suppressed at half of the cylinders, which serve as a natural gas compressor. When fueling is completed, all of the engine’s cylinders revert to normal operation.
The novel technology “builds natural gas compression capability directly into an automotive engine so that it can function both as a source of power and natural gas compression,” the company says. ObDI aims to allow NGVs to fuel “directly from the existing natural gas distribution system.”
The firm won $2.88 million last year from the U.S. DoE’s ARPA-E/Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy initiative toward a $3.6 million effort to commercialize the technology (F&F, September 22, 2014).
“We’re using the Ford engine platform for our testbed,” says ObDI CEO Rita Hansen. “I call it the beta,” she told F&F.
The ARPA-E contract calls for validation on ObDI’s engine test cell. “A subsequent stage of our development will place this and other engines in road-worthy vehicles.”
Ten GGEs Per Hour, At a Minimum
ObDI says that its selected the 6.2-liter Ford engine because it’s the most widely adopted CNG engine in its class. The company will use a gaseous-prep version, Hansen says, noting that she expects the technology to be applied to a wide range of engines powering NGVs.
The goal under the ARPA-E program is for an ObDI-equipped vehicle to be able to fuel itself from a low-pressure natural gas source at a rate of about 10 gasoline gallon equivalents per hour – not attractive to consumers, perhaps, but workable for fleets preferring time-fill to an investment in CNG infrastructure.
A New Advisory Board and an Early Fleet User
“The initial beachhead market is all about the fleet operator,” Hansen says, adding, “We feel very confident that we’re going to beat that [10 GGE/hour] goal.”
ObDI this week named an advisory board of five automotive and energy industry veterans to guide the commercialization process.
“These industry leaders have agreed to join our team in bringing this game- changing technology to market,” Hansen said in a release. “Their vast knowledge and experience will help our company realize the promise of powering many of our country’s vehicles with clean, abundant, domestic natural gas.”
The five are
- Jeff English, CEO of Grey Forest Utilities in San Antonio;
- Maurice Gunderson, former venture capitalist;
- Dick Kauling, ex-GM, currently the principal of KauliNG Solutions;
- Dr. Patric Ouellette, chief technology officer of Westport Innovations; and
- Ralph Rackham, former executive VP of FuelMaker.
According to the ObDI website, the Deschutes County Road Department in Bend, Ore. will be the first fleet user.
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Source: Onboard Dynamics with Fleets & Fuels follow-up