At Least Two Boatbuilders Now Offer CNG Option
As System Developer Offers Compelling Economics,
Introduces ‘Hybrid’ Variant for Better Acceleration
Blue Gas Marine is stepping up its work in compressed natural gas for boats with gasoline engines, promoting a bi-fuel upfit said to slash fuel costs and introducing a dual fuel gasoline-CNG “Advanced Hybrid CNG” system to provide “out of the hole” acceleration power for patrol and competition boats. updated March 23
Intrepid Powerboats and Dusky Marine are among the boatbuilders currently offering Blue Gas Marine CNG systems as options, says Blue Gas Marine CEO Miguel Guerreiro. A factory installation was shown on a Dusky 252FC fisherman’s boat at the Miami International Boat Show last month (F&F, January 22).
“Marine-grade gasoline on the water that is ethanol free is extremely expensive,” Guerreiro says – $3.50 to $4.50 per gallon even with today’s low prices for on-road fuel. What’s more, he says, the high octane of natural gas improves the efficiency of fuel-thirsty boats by about 40%.
Cheaper by Far than Marine Gasoline
And, given the 50¢-per-gallon tax credit, “The federal government will buy it for you,” he says.
Guerreiro is working the private recreational boat market as he seeks U.S. Coast Guard approval – “We’ll get it this year” – to sell his system to tour operators who carry more than half a dozen passengers. “The fuel cost is 80% of their cost of operation and we can cut that in half,” he says.
Selling at half the cost of gasoline benefits the boat owner and makes for more profits for marina operators as well.
Dealer Network Developing
A trial on Fort Lauderdale harbor patrol boats resulted in an 82% fuel cost reduction, Guerreiro says.
Blue Gas Marine, he explains, is developing a network of dealers able to perform upfits as the marine CNG concept gains traction among manufacturers. So far there are qualified dealers in North Carolina (Blue Gas Marine is based in Apex, N.C.) and Florida.
The Miami show, Guerreiro told F&F, resulted in several sales of Blue Gas Marine CNG systems for Intrepid and Chris Craft boats with Yamaha and Mercury outboard motors, and Mercury MerCruiser inboards.
$14,000 for an Intrepid Installation
On a 33-foot Intrepid, he says, Blue Gas Marine is installing its add-on engine system on twin 300-horsepower Mercury engines to be powered by 40 gasoline gallon equivalents of CNG in Type IV cylinders from Hexagon Lincoln, Blue Gas Marine’s preferred tank supplier. The owner opted to leave the boat’s 300-gallon gasoline tank in place, although he expects to run primarily on CNG. This particular Intrepid upfit is costing is $14,000, Guerreiro says.
Blue Gas Marine’s standard CNG systems are CNG-gasoline bi-fuel, but the new Advanced Hybrid CNG variant sees both fuels in the combustion chamber at the same time. Approximately 10% gasoline with the CNG provides a power boost for initial acceleration. Once the boat is cruising, the system shifts back to 100% natural gas – or gasoline. “The primary fuel will always be CNG,” Guerreiro says. “We look at gasoline as the backup fuel.
Hexagon Lincoln, AFV/SSP, Swagelok
In addition to Hexagon Lincoln for CNG fuel tanks, Blue Gas Marine suppliers include AFV Natural Gas Fuel Systems/SSP and Swagelok. Regulators are built to Blue Gas Marine specifications, although the firm is testing Emer units from Westport as well. Blue Gas Marine has proprietary injectors that work in concert with the engines’ OEM injectors, Guerreiro says.
Blue Gas Marine is also developing products for marine diesel engines – both dual fuel and spark-ignition are contemplated – and for marina and at-home fueling. Gasoline boats can’t be fueled at home, but given the right compressor package, a CNG boat can. Stay tuned!
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Source: Fleets & Fuels interview