Low-NOx Engines & the Emergence of Biomethane in Volume
Said to Make Heavy NGVs Best Option for Clean Vehicle Future:
Can ‘Transform America’s On-Road Heavy Duty Transportation’
As Trucks Are the Largest On-Road Contributor to Smog in the U.S.
The combination of new natural gas engines with “near-zero” emissions and the emergence of significant volumes of renewable natural gas to fuel them makes natural gas the best option as California policymakers – and the states and countries that follow California’s lead – look to slash vehicle emission in the coming years.
That was the consensus at the Game Changer NGV Summit hosted last week by NGVAmerica, the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, and the California Natural Gas Vehicle Partnership in Long Beach, Calif.
“With the increased use of RNG, we can start to immediately make a big dent in our air quality, climate, petroleum displacement and renewable fuel demand goals,” a conference participant told F&F today.
‘Commercially Available Today’
“This technology and fuel is commercially available today and we can and need to start to see mass deployments if we are going to meet our near term air quality goals – starting with NAAQS [the National Ambient Air Quality Standards] taking effect from 2023.
“NGVs are ready and can do a lot in the near term, a critical period of time.”
“Natural gas fuel provides the first commercially proven means for on-road HDVs to immediately begin providing dramatic reductions in emissions of smog precursors and climate-changing greenhouse gases,” said another conference presenter. “NGVs are “ready to transform America’s on-road heavy duty transportation,” he said.
The event drew representatives from more than 80 organizations spanning 25 states and Canada. “This is amazing,” said a California Energy Commission delegate – twice.
The key engine technology is embodied in the “Near-Zero” version of the 8.9-liter Cummins Westport ISL G, already certified by the California Air Resources Board at just 0.02 grams per brake-horsepower – 90% cleaner than the existing nitrogen oxides standard of 0.2 grams in effect since 2010 (the engine was introduced at NGVAmerica’s annual meeting in Denver this past fall; F&F, October 6, 2015).
The super-low NOx certification is game-changing because it provides a short-term remedy for pollution caused by trucks – at current levels of NOx emissions trucks are the largest on-road contributors to smog in America.
Three Key Engines
Production of the 8.9-liter ISL G NZ is to commence next month and Cummins Westport has pledged to deliver an NZ version of its flagship 11.9-liter ISX12 G engine as well. The ISX12 G NZ is to be available in 2018, Cummins Westport president Rob Neitzke said in Long Beach. The company is seeking funding to help develop the NZ version of the ISB6.7 G, he said.
The key from the fuel side is biomethane, aka RNG, or renewable natural gas, which depending on source can have a greenhouse gas effect so low as to be demonstrably negative.
Increasing Use of RNG
RNG is available now from an increasing number of local providers and via the pipeline as “Redeem” brand from Clean Energy Fuels. Redeem customers in California include Republic Services, the City of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus operation, and the University of California, San Diego – and UPS.
UPS has also begun using Redeem in Texas, and announced late last year that it would use RNG from MLGW/Memphis Light, Gas and Water and Atmos Energy Marketing in Memphis and in Jackson, Miss. (F&F, December 21).
Redeem Sales More than Doubled in 2015
More than half of the vehicular natural gas supplied by Clean Energy in California is now Redeem, Clean Energy Renewable Fuels president Harrison Clay said at the Game Changer gathering, citing LCFS/low carbon fuel standard figures. And there is potential for far more: some 275 million gasoline gallon equivalents of biogas is flared annually in California alone, Clay said: “Billions of gallons of biomethane [are] technically recoverable with no breakthroughs in technology.”
The primary impediments to widespread adoption, he said, “are regulatory.” Clean Energy nevertheless more than doubled its Redeem sales last year, to 50 million gallons, from 20 million gallons in 2014 (F&F, February 10).
The one-two punch of RNG/renewable natural gas and the super low-NOx engine “is arguably the most important development for America’s HDV and air quality sectors in decades,” organizers said prior to the Game Changer meeting.
In addition to the heads of Cummins Westport and Clean Energy Renewable Fuels, presentations were made by representatives of the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, the South Coast Air Quality management District, the U.S. EPA, NGVAmerica, and Fleets & Fuels publisher Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, the conference organizer.
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Source: GNA and partners with Fleets & Fuels follow-up