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Cummins chooses Hythane OptiBlend system for retrofitting dual-fueled power on drilling rigs

2 July 2014

Cummins has selected the OptiBlend Dual Fuel System from Hythane Company, a wholly owned US subsidiary of Perth-based Eden Energy Ltd to deliver an integrated solution for retrofitting dual-fueled power on drilling rigs. The Optiblend kit displaces diesel with natural gas (up to 70%) or other alternative fuels, without modifications to the internal components or the stock fuel management system.

The OptiBlend system lowers operational costs, increases back up runtime capacity, and reduces NOx, CO2, and PM emissions. When required, the system allows the engine to run on 100% diesel.

The Hythane OptiBlend components will remain Hythane-branded, and certain Cummins distributors will become certified Hythane service and warranty dealers, allowing Cummins to be the single point of contact for the rig owner.

Cummins and Hythane Company worked together to integrate the dual fuel components with the Drilling Power Module and the oil field skid structure on which the engine is mounted.

  • There is an integrated user interface panel for the Cummins Drilling Power Module and the Hythane OptiBlend dual fuel controls.

  • The diesel oxidation catalyst and gas train components have been integrated into the oil field skid structure, following Hythane’s guidelines.

Hythane Company performed laboratory emissions testing at an EPA-certified testing laboratory in Texas on the Cummins QSK50 engine/generator set (genset) intended for subsequent drilling applications in the USA. This established a “reasonable basis” under the broad definitions of the EPA’s Memorandum 1A, in order to prove that the dual-fuel retrofit equipment results in emissions that are compliant with the applicable standards.

Hythane’s testing allows them, as dealers of aftermarket equipment, to document and demonstrate the expectations described by the EPA.

Background. Hythane (a combination of hydrogen and methane) was developed in the laboratory of a company called Hydrogen Components, Inc. (HCI). (Earlier post.) In 1989, HCI began blending various ratios of hydrogen and natural gas and testing them in an emissions laboratory at Colorado State University. Using information gleaned from these studies, HCI successfully converted a Chevrolet S-10 pick-up truck to a “tri-fuel” vehicle, which utilized gasoline, natural gas, and hydrogen/natural gas blends. These blends were patented in 1990 for spark- and compression-ignition engines. In 1992, another testing project began, utilizing three General Motors pick-up trucks: one operating on gasoline, one operating on natural gas, and one operating on Hythane fuel.

In 1993, HCI and the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) at Colorado State University formed a research partnership and proposed a comprehensive study to the Department of Energy (DOE). The study, which examined the hydrogen combustion parameters at various engine operating conditions over a range of hydrogen percentages (from 0% to 30% by volume) blended with natural gas, gave HCI the information to determine the best blend for optimal fuel performance. The idea that hydrogen could have the greatest environmental benefit when combined with conventional fossil fuels is a concept now referred to as “hydrogen leveraging.”

Since then, Hythane has worked on a number of projects in the US, Canada and across the globe. Hythane worked with HydroQuebec, SNCLavalin, and Environment Canada to demonstrate Hythane in Montreal’s buses; Hythane fuel has been optioned by Sun-Line Transit for use in their buses using Cummins Westport engines.

In addition to its Hythane fuel line, the Hythane Company is focused on the OptiBlend system as well as carbon nanomaterials to improve mechanical and electrical performance.

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