The California Energy Commission approved a $1-million grant to develop a 12-liter natural gas engine that produces near-zero nitrogen oxide (NOx) tailpipe emissions. The engines would be suitable for heavy-duty vehicles. The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) will work with Cummins Westport, Inc., to develop the engine. Cummins has a history of developing natural gas engines for heavy-duty application, and its engines are being used globally in a variety of commercial vehicles.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) 2010 emission standards for heavy-duty engines establish a limit for NOx emissions of 0.2 grams per brake horsepower hour (g/bhp-hr), and constitute a 90% reduction of emissions compared to the previous standard (CARB 2007) of 2.0 g/bhp-hr. Nevertheless, it is projected that even with the entire on-road fleet of heavy-duty vehicles compliant with the 2010 standards, upcoming National Ambient Air Quality Standards requirements for ozone attainment cannot be achieved in California’s worst air basins without further significant reductions in NOx emissions from heavy-duty fleets.
Analysis of natural gas vehicle technology shows a high potential for greenhouse gas reductions on a well-to-wheels basis in heavy-duty vehicles (11-23%) using conventional natural gas, as well as an opportunity to substantially offset petroleum consumption. Original equipment manufacturers indicate that the near-zero emission target of 0.05 g/bhp-hr could be met or exceeded through research and development efforts. Even higher potential may exist, depending in large part on the removal of current obstacles through Research Development and Demonstration and deployment. Collaborative research efforts between federal, state, and local funding agencies and private technology developers are expected to produce key strategic breakthroughs in a broad range of natural gas vehicle technologies.
The grant funds the integration and demonstration of an advanced 12-liter natural gas engine capable of achieving a 90% reduction in NOx emissions from California Air Resources Board 2010 emission standards, and with performance standards comparable to its diesel counterparts.
The grant focuses on existing engine research and consists of engine development and on-road vehicle demonstration. The work will primarily be completed in existing research facilities and consists of engine development work, dynamometer testing, and vehicle integration at local distributors.
The engine will offer fleets an option for larger vehicles, such as drayage trucks equipped with natural gas near zero technology. Drayage trucks are used to haul cargo containers from ocean ports to distribution centers and rail yards.
The development of the natural gas engine will help meet California Air Resources Board 2010 emissions standards and support efforts to improve air quality in the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley air basins.
According to the Air Resources Board’s Sustainable Freight Action Plan, transportation—and heavy-duty vehicles in particular—play an important role in achieving California’s emission reduction goals. Additionally, these near-zero engines, when fueled with California-produced renewable natural gas, become a near-term and viable solution for greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts.
The Energy Commission also approved a $500,000-grant for the Fullerton Joint Union High School District to upgrade its existing compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling infrastructure in La Habra. The upgrade includes improvements and expansion to a fleet refueling system and the addition of a fast-fill dispenser for public use.
The upgrades will allow the Fullerton school district to retire older diesel and gasoline burning vehicles in their bus and service vehicle fleet. The upgrades also will allow the district to meet its projected CNG needs over the next 10 years.
The dual hose fast-fill dispensers on the new public CNG vending islands would operate unmanned 24 hours a day, with an automated payment system. Funding for the upgrade project and new fast-fill dispenser islands comes from the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which supports alternative fuel and transportation projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and California's dependence on fossil fuels.