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Omnitek developing 18L natural gas engine for off-road construction vehicle applications

Omnitek Engineering Corp. will participate in a $1.5-million California Energy Commission grant (GFO-16-506) study with its partner Olson-Ecologic Testing Laboratories to demonstrate its clean natural gas engine technology for off-road heavy duty construction vehicle applications in the greater Los Angeles area.

Omnitek Engineering will develop an 18-liter Caterpillar natural gas engine capable of operating on CNG, LNG or low-carbon intensive renewable biogas (R-CNG) by utilizing its patented diesel-to-natural gas engine conversion technology. Olson-Ecologic Engine Testing Laboratories will serve as project manager and be responsible for testing at its facility prior to demonstrations under real-life conditions.

Construction equipment is the largest category of off-road emissions in the South Coast Air Basin, accounting for about one third of the off-road NOx and PM2.5 emissions, according information provided by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Our goal is to demonstrate the cost-effective alternatives to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and facilitate fleet compliance requirements by introducing advanced technology natural gas engines to the traditionally diesel powered off-road construction industry.

—Werner Funk, president and CEO of Omnitek Engineering

Heavy-duty diesel off-road machinery has a long service life and therefore is replaced less frequently than on-road heavy duty trucks. The long service life of heavy-duty off-road machinery results in a very slow rotation of the fleet to cleaner technology.

We are advocating a cost-effective repower of existing older machines with Tier 4 compliant NG engines instead of replacing vehicles by purchasing new Tier 4 compliant diesel machines. Such engine repower is especially cost-effective when it is performed during a scheduled engine overhaul, or major engine refurbishing. Since OEM natural gas engines are not readily available for the largest of the off-road machines, diesel-to-natural gas (DNG) engine conversion is a viable and cost-effective alternative. For the lower-power off-road machines, on-road natural gas engines could be modified by the OEM and produced for off-road use.

—Werner Funk

The award to Omnitek and Olson-Ecologic was one of three under GFO-16-506. The others were a $1.4-million grant to develop ultra-low emission natural gas port yard trucks; and a $1.5-million award to develop a CNG hybrid system for off-road agricultural vehicles.


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