February 15, 2016
The CEC plans to spend $3.5 million this year on transportation-related natural gas research projects, out of a $24 million budget for all natural gas research initiatives. The transportation funding will go toward projects that develop cost-effective on-board CNG storage and new medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine technologies. These investments should further work on advanced storage systems and engines with ultra-low emissions, plus expand market opportunities for NGVs, CEC staff said at a recent workshop.
“At least half of the cost of conversion to CNG is in the storage and fuel system—the on-board CNG storage is a high cost penalty,” said Cherif Youssef, technology development manager at Southern California Gas Company. “The CEC is recognizing the importance of reducing the cost of converting to natural gas and improving engine efficiency by funding these projects.”
Building on the success of the Cummins Westport 8.9-liter near-zero-NOx heavy-duty natural gas engine, the CEC is supporting development of a 6.7-liter version designed for school buses and delivery vans. Cummins Westport is also working on a 12-liter ultra-low-emission engine for long-haul trucks, according to Youssef.
The CEC is also funding three hybridization projects—by Efficient Drivetrains, TransPower, and Gas Technology Institute—that use battery power to minimize emissions as well as idle and low-load engine operation. Additionally, the CEC announced plans to release a new solicitation this summer to develop natural gas engine projects for off-road vehicles (see News Briefs).
The 2016 budget for natural gas–related transportation projects is $900,000 less than in 2015. The CEC allocated that money to infrastructure safety projects, such as improving underground storage and preventing pipeline leaks. Details are in the CEC’s 2016–17 Natural Gas Research Initiatives workshop presentation.
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