Live From the 2011 Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo

Pre-Expo Tour

 

Prior to the official start of the 2011 ACT Expo I had an opportunity to go on a group tour of two natural gas refueling stations. The first stop was at a CNG refueling station built and operated by Clean Energy to service a large fleet of Republic waste haulers. The station is laid out in a large parking area so up to 100 trucks can be fueled overnight in what is known as a slow-fill operation. This can be done automatically with no operator attendance required. The slow fill concept saves on capital investment for compression equipment and power cost. The station is equipped with three 150 Hp multistage gas compressors that have an output capacity of 450 Scf/Min. These compressors must take 20 psi feed gas and deliver at +/- 4000 psi.

The trucks utilized by Republic are Autocar’s Xpeditor Class 8 model equipped with the Cummins 8.9L ISL-G spark ignited engine rated at 320 Hp. Because the engine is spark ignited there is a 5% lower efficiency than a diesel counterpart and has a mileage rating of about 4-6 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE). The trucks have four fuel tanks mounted along the top that hold 15 DGE each or 60 DGE total (8.32 MMBtu). Recent advancements in design of storage tanks resulted in this increased storage capacity allowing the trucks to operate all day without returning to base. Average daily fuel consumption is 40 DGE per truck.

Because Republic is a major customer they are able to obtain the CNG fuel at $2.10 per DGE which is ~ $15.14 per MMBtu. This covers all services provided by Clean Energy.

The second stop was at the largest LNG refueling station in the US located adjacent to the Port of Long Beach. Clean Energy built and operates this station and supplies LNG from their liquefier located in Boron, CA. This station primarily provides LNG fuel but also has CNG available by vaporizing LNG after being pumped up to pressure. The station has 6 refueling bays and looks in many ways like the typical diesel truck stop. The station has two 25,000 gallon vertical LNG storage tanks that are restocked by 10,000 gallon LNG haulers. As opposed to CNG, LNG requires very little power because the fuel is provided at much lower pressure. Power cost is only about 1 cent per gallon of fuel dispensed.

Many trucks passed thru for refueling during the short visit and originated from the port and various fleets including Pepsi and UPS. Although there are several truck brands generally all are currently equipped with Cummins-Westport engines that have up to 400 Hp. Typical fuel capacity is 75 gallons and can be refueled in a couple of minutes.

LNG was being sold at the station at $2.08 per DGE ($15.00 per MMBtu) while diesel was priced at $4.54 per gallon.

The typical heavy duty natural gas fueled truck costs $40,000 more than its diesel counterpart. Only $4,000 of that incremental cost is for the engine with the remainder being for the fuel storage and fueling system. Payout for the incremental cost is normally less than three years.

 

Day 1 – 2011 ACT Expo

There was lots of excellent information provided regarding natural gas vehicles – especially heavy duty trucks with LNG or CNG engines. The following are just a few highlights from the first day of the Expo.

GM is getting back into the light duty NGV market and will have a vehicle with a cruising range of 300 miles.
Cummins-Westport Innovations have 28,000 of their heavy duty natural gas engines in service worldwide.

The CWI ISL-G 8.9L spark ignited engine is very similar to the Cummins diesel counterpart except for the addition of spark plugs and replacement of the cylinder heads. The engine utilizes a passive 3-way catalyst for emissions control.

The Westport Innovations 15L ISX HPDI LNG engine has the same performance and efficiency as a diesel engine. Engine utilizes a particulate filter and exhaust after-treatment for emission control.

Incremental cost of heavy duty natural gas trucks over diesel is $45,000 to $75,000 dependent upon specific application. Majority of cost is for fuel tank which is $25,000 for LNG and $35,000 for CNG.

Truck owners looking for 2-3 payout of incremental capital cost of natural gas vehicles. Typically replace trucks after 800,000 miles.

Consensus is the biggest obstacle to growth in heavy duty NGV’s is lack of refueling infrastructure. Most CNG stations are not capability of providing sufficient pressure or rate to fuel heavy duty vehicles.

The American Gas Association (AGA) (utilities) and American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) (producers) are working together to promote use of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Line haul heavy duty LNG trucks are typically with a fuel tank with at least 150 gallons of capacity. This should provide a cruising range of ~ 500 miles.

Natural gas truck fleet should consume at least 250,000 to 500,000 DGE gallons per year to justify construction of a dedicated fully station.

All UPS natural gas refueling stations can be accessed by the public.

 

Day 2 – 2011 ACT Expo

Less information on Day 2 of the Expo but still some good talks on alternative fuels.

The AGA-ANGA transportation collaborative is working to promote natural gas and has formed four committees:
Fleet Conversion
OEM Outreach
Marketing / Education
Infrastructure Development
The concept is to build regional transportation corridors with LNG and CNG fueling stations

Drivers are receptive to natural gas trucks due to quiet engine and no diesel smell.

Westport Cummins 8.9L engine is not sufficiently powerful for line haul applications. It works well for lighter duty applications such as waste haulers and local distribution. Fuel mileage is ~ 5-6 miles per DGE while new diesel trucks are 7 miles per DGE.

Martin Daum head of Daimler Trucks gave an excellent keynote talk. Their brands include Freightliner Trucks, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses. His company delivered their first LNG truck to the Port of Long Beach in 2008. Since then their sales of alternate fuel trucks have increased significantly each year and have already sold more than 1000 in 2011. Biggest issue is the need for natural gas fueling infrastructure to support line haul trucking.

 

EnCana is working to convert some drilling rigs to natural gas. Typical drilling rig consumes 1000 – 2000 gallons of diesel per day.

Currently there are 891 CNG (43% public) and 41 LNG (34% public) fueling stations in the US.

ANGA is promoting the development of the Texas Clean Transportation Triangle along the I-35 & I-45 corridors between Dallas-Ft Worth, San Antonio and Houston. Objective includes 550 natural gas trucks and 13 natural gas fueling stations at a total cost of $81 million.

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Comment by Les B on May 19, 2011 at 10:45pm

Jayson, yes - Lynn was very impressive with her pitch for the Texas Triangle.

 

I did get around the exhibit hall and recall your white, round CNG tank.  There were some vendors that are particular relevant to my employer and I was able gain a lot of new information relevant to fture opportunities.

 

I am not part of the Metroplex NGV Consortium and unfortunately not in a that region.  Thanks for the invite and I will be following the group's progress.

Comment by Jayson Feltner on May 18, 2011 at 11:08am

Les, sounds like you were in the same session as I was on the last day.  Lynn Lyons from Pioneer made a great case for the Texas Triangle don't you think?  Did you get a chance to tour the hall much.  My booth was the Allied Equipment Booth with the big white sphere in it.

 

Are you part of the Metroplex NGV Consortium?  We'll be meeting May 24th in Fort Worth if you want to come to the meeting to hear what's in store for NGVs in Texas.

Comment by Les B on May 11, 2011 at 11:33pm
Sesport, a large part of the incremental cost is in the fuel tank.  If demand was higher then tank fabrication could be automated resulting in some reduction in cost.

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