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EPA updates rules to ease commercialization of alternative fuel conversion systems

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated rules making it easier for manufacturers to sell fuel conversion systems—i.e., systems that alter a conventionally-fueled vehicle or engine to enable it to run on an alternative fuel. The updated final rule covers alternative fuel conversion of light-duty vehicles and heavy-duty highway vehicles and engines.

While properly engineered conversion systems can reduce or at least not increase emissions, poorly designed systems can lead to much more pollution. Previous EPA regulations required vehicle and engine conversion systems to be covered by a certificate of conformity to gain a regulatory exemption from potential tampering charges.

EPA evaluated the requirement and determined that it is appropriate to introduce new flexibilities for all clean alternative fuel converters and to expand the compliance options for certain categories of conversions.

The revised procedures will vary based on the age of the vehicle or engine being converted. EPA has found that the procedures for older vehicles and engines can be streamlined, while maintaining environmental safeguards. As opposed to a one-size fits all approach, EPA’s process is now based on whether a vehicle or engine is new, intermediate age, or outside its expected useful life.

The demonstration and notification requirements for new and relatively new vehicles and engines will continue to involve a certification process that is very similar to previous practice. Once certified, however, annual recertification will no longer be required to maintain the tampering exemption. The notification and demonstration requirements for intermediate age vehicles and engines include testing and submission of data to show that the converted vehicle or engine continues to meet applicable standards. The notification and demonstration process for outside useful life vehicles and engines involves submission of a description of the conversion system that provides sufficient technical detail to determine that the conversion will not increase emissions.

Overview of Program Elements
Vehicle/Engine AgeConversion Manufacturer RequirementCertificate Issued?
CategoryApplicabilityExample for 2011 Demonstration Notification  
New MY >= current calendar year - 1 MY 2010, 2011, 2012 and < useful life mileage Exhaust, Evap, and OBD testing Certification application Yes

Intermediate age

MY <= current calendar year - 2 and < useful life MY 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009  and < useful life mileage Exhaust and Evap testing + OBD scan tool test and attestation Compliance submission No

Outside useful life

Exceeds useful life MY2001 and older or > full useful life in mileage Technical justification and OBD scan tool test and attestation Compliance submission No

All conversion manufacturers seeking an exemption must demonstrate compliance, but the requirements differ among age categories. EPA expects the streamlined approach to result in a cost savings for many converters.



This is a positive step toward further use of flex fuels. Well done EPA!


A lot of this has to do with CNG conversions. Over at the Pickens Plan they realized that there were not a lot of certified conversion kits in the U.S. Even though the plan mainly calls for big rigs to run CNG, many wanted to convert their cars.

The EPA was the gate keeper to conversions. You could buy kits for several models in other countries, but you could not install them in the U.S. We want to run cleaner fuels and reduce oil imports, but an agency was making it difficult to do that.

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