March 13, 2017
American Power Group (APG) technology is “a gateway for fleets considering the conversion to alternative fuels such as natural gas,” said Dan Goodwin, the company’s vice president of technical marketing and government affairs. “Our natural gas dual-fuel conversion technology gives trucking companies an option to use natural gas in 80,000-pound trucks on routes that are challenging for dedicated spark-ignited natural gas engines.”
APG, based in Algona, Iowa, builds dual-fuel engine conversions for Class 8 trucks and other high-horsepower (13L or larger) applications that dedicated natural gas engines can’t yet address. For Class 8 trucks, APG offers the Turbocharged Natural Gas Dual Fuel System, which uses natural gas in conjunction with diesel fuel to power the engine. It allows the truck to operate either on a mix of fuel or on 100 percent diesel when conditions call for it, such as when driving up the steep grade in Grapevine at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley.
Providing an option for the heaviest vehicles
“We don’t want to impede progress on near-zero-NOx-emissions natural gas technology or be seen as in competition with 100 percent natural gas engines. We believe the consumer prefers options and an all-of-the-above strategy only furthers the momentum to get heavy-duty fleets into cleaner alternative fuels. We introduce natural gas to fleets that wouldn’t otherwise have a cleaner fuel option,” said Goodwin, adding that APG’s technology allows traditional diesel fleets to “dip their toes in the water” of a technology that they may perceive as less predictable than the one they’re used to.
“We allow the heaviest trucks to improve their overall sustainability. Our technology reduces NOx emissions 25 to 50 percent, depending on the engine family, the age of the engine and the fleet duty cycle,” said Goodwin.
“The APG conversion system also exposes fleets to the natural gas infrastructure,” he added. “Drivers learn that the natural gas stations they need are out there, and that fueling a natural gas vehicle isn’t that difficult, which is a great way for other Coalition member companies to gain entry into new markets.”
According to Goodwin, the benefits of the dual-fuel conversion system include no loss of power or torque, no modifications to the OEM diesel engine, and annual fuel savings of up to 30 percent or up to 25 cents per mile. He said the APG system lets drivers make longer hauls, as far as 800 miles or more between refuelings, and eliminates range anxiety for drivers and fleet managers.
Goodwin describes APG’s dual-fuel system technology as “remarkably elegant and simple.” Modern high-horsepower engines have a turbocharger that brings in clean air to mix in the combustion chamber with diesel. APG’s system uses either LNG or CNG storage to deliver low-pressure natural gas mixed with air through the turbocharger into the combustion chamber.
APG’s proprietary electronic control module monitors OEM engine diagnostic information, as well as its own system data, to determine the correct ratio of methane to diesel fuel to provide the same performance as the OEM diesel engine. The substitution rate of natural gas to diesel is highest on the open road at highway speeds and “a little less in stop-and-go traffic when the turbocharger is not operating at full boost pressure,” said Goodwin.
Joining the Coalition gets companies into the conversation
Goodwin appreciates the Coalition’s focus on all classes of trucks, pointing to its effectiveness in winning incentives for NGVs from the state legislature. It’s important to APG to be included in the natural gas discussion, said Goodwin, “because, as a dual-fuel option, we provide an avenue for the natural gas market.
“We can be a big part of the effort to reduce NOx emissions today. How many lives can we save by investing in natural gas technologies and cleaning the air right now?”American Power Group, Coalition news, member profile
Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission