Natural Gas and Propane Autogas Upfits Made Easier,
But Agency Is Asked to Be ‘Nimble’ on Future Changes
As expected, the California Air Resources Board has approved changes aimed at substantially streamlining the certification process for propane autogas and natural gas vehicle upfits. The changes bring CARB’s requirements closer to those of the U.S. EPA (F&F, August 19).
The agency board voted unanimously last week in favor of the changes. But a key advocate for alt fuels in California, citing international competition and rapidly evolving technology, would like CARB to go further. Officials there, says Peter Ward of Alternative Fuels Advocates, should be able to make adjustments to the requirements without having to go to the Board each time.
The agency and the industry worked together to effect the current round of changes (the first substantial revision to the CARB requirements in 18 years), Ward says, and their continued cooperation and mutual interest should be encouraged.
“Keep the regulations nimble,” Ward says.
Natural gas and propane are inherently cleaner, with lower carbon content, than the fuels they replace, Ward argues, and CARB should keep this in mind as it regulates the vehicles that are to use them.
“I want to continue this,” he says of the recent successful process.
CARB is taking comments one last time on the latest round of changes, and can expect to hear from Ward about the need to keep the process flexible.
Also monitoring the situation is Washington, D.C.-based NGVAmerica, which has provided an excellent summary of the changes to association members. With the new rules, CARB is
- permitting conversion systems that are approved for new vehicles to be sold for used or in-use vehicle conversions;
- reducing the number and type of OBD demonstrations required (demonstration of the catalyst system, the fuel system at rich and lean limits and the exhaust gas sensors of the emission control system would still be required);
- waiving evaporative emission testing requirements for sealed fuel systems;
- allowing assigned deterioration factors to determine compliance with useful life emissions testing in lieu of high-mileage emissions testing;
- allowing commercially available fuel instead of more expensive test fuel;
- allowing manufacturers to use of a multiplier of 1.5 to convert NMHC emissions to NMOG emissions (as allowed by U.S. EPA regulations);
- waiving additional testing requirements relating to gasoline emissions in vehicles that can operate on natural gas or gasoline so long as no changes to the gasoline operation have been made;
- allowing manufacturers to use alternative testing measures in the case of heavy duty engines and vehicles that originally were certified using an engine dynamometer; and
- providing additional flexibility for manufacturers who opt to certify a vehicle to a more stringent standard than the level certified to by the vehicle’s original manufacturer.
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CARB, Craig Duehring, 916-323-2361; [email protected]
Source: California Air Resources Board with Fleets & Fuels follow-up