North Carolina Company Promotes Dramatic Fuel Cost Savings,
Tackles Waterfront Infrastructure Too, Signs Calvert as Advisor
Apex, N.C.-based Blue Gas Marine is gathering momentum as it seeks to bring compressed natural gas to the marine sector, initially targeting the high-volume gasoline outboard sector but moving into larger diesel vessels as well.
BGM has enlisted Bill Calvert, co-founder of the company that grew into BAF Technologies and is now part of Westport, as an executive advisor.
BGM claims cost advantages for CNG that in may ways outstrip the cost advantages long understood for road vehicles:
- Even with today’s low oil prices, marine gasoline is expensive, in the neighborhood of $5 per gallon at some marinas, says BGM president and CEO Miguel Guerreiro. What’s more, BGM-modified engines run lean, he told F&F, and thus consume as much as 40% less fuel as common rich-burn marine gasoline engines. With those factors combined, fuel cost savings can amount to 80%.
- On the emissions side, both Guerreiro and Calvert note that marine gasoline engines don’t have the controls, like catalytic converters, required for cars and trucks. Engines modified for CNG operation can reduce air pollution by 70%. And, when running on CNG, there is no un-combusted gasoline in the (underwater) exhaust, so boat water pollution is eliminated, Guerreiro notes. BGM says that total pollution reduction can be as high as 90%.
BGM has thus far installed its kits, which include injectors, fuel rails and control electronics, on Yamaha and Mercury outboard engines. “Our system is an add-on plug-and-play,” Guerreiro says. The BGM mods allow for continued gasoline operation (“to give people peace of mind”), simultaneous gasoline-natural gas operation (which BGM terms “hybrid”), and pure natural gas operation.
Hexagon, Quantum, WireTough
BGM installs complete systems, using all-composite Type IV CNG cylinders from Hexagon Composites and Quantum, and has begun working too with Type II steel tanks with Virginia’s WireTough.
“We use automotive-grade tanks that we marine-ize for corrosion resistance and UV protection,” Guerreiro says.
“The engineering looks great,” Calvert told F&F.
Looking at Marine Diesels
The firm is moving to larger inboard marine engines, Guerreiro says, like those offered by PCM/Pleasurecraft, and with new funding will tackle marine diesel engines as well.
Guerreiro points out that most pleasure boats are towed on trailers to the water, and that their CNG tanks can thus be filled at existing CNG fueling outlets. In anticipation of an expansion of the marine CNG market to law enforcement and water taxi fleets, BGM is installing shoreside fueling facilities at locations including Fort Pierce and Clearwater, both in Florida.
BGM noted in a release this month that under Bill Calvert’s leadership, BAF grew to be the leading provider of natural gas vehicle systems in the United States, “converting over 20,000 vehicles and achieving $42 million in annual revenue.”
At BGM, “Calvert will focus his efforts on leveraging his industry relationships and experience to establish BGM as an industry leader in marine alternative fuel systems…
“Specifically Bill will be working directly with marine engine OEMs adopting BGM’s fuel system technology to draw from the experiences of their automotive counterparts and provide access to his extensive network of natural gas companies and fuel suppliers to further expand BGM’s rapidly growing fuel infrastructure network.”
Before being acquired by Westport, BAF was part of Clean Energy Fuels. Today Clean Energy is helping BGM with its infrastructure efforts, Guerreiro says.
“Bill is well positioned to assist BGM in the process of accessing loans and grants for on-the-water CNG fueling stations and its onboard fueling technology,” BGM says. “He will help us immediately connect with key decision makers to fuel the growth and adoption of our revolutionary technology,” Guerreiro says in the announcement.
‘A Lower Cost and Lower Risk Solution’
“This opportunity allows me to be part of an exciting company in natural gas-powered transportation, which is obviously close to my heart, and extends the reach of natural gas as an alternative fuel, to an entirely new sector, which is the marine industry,” Calvert says in the BGM release.
BGM says that its system “reduces fueling costs by 70% and reduces pollution by as much as 90%. Customers include boat manufacturers, marinas, commercial fishermen, fleets, recreational users and government agencies.
“Blue Gas Marine, Inc. provides the only fueling option that delivers to customers a lower cost and lower risk solution when converting to a green alternative.”
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Source: Blue Gas Marine with Fleets & Fuels follow-up