NGV Global held an informational workshop, “Guaranteeing Safety in CNG Vehicles: Inspections, Improvements and Innovations” on 30th April 2018 in conjunction with the ACT Conference in Long Beach California. More than 50 attendees participated to hear about and discuss the range of regulatory and practical issues associated with the cylinder inspection process to further improve NGV safety while also enhancing user convenience.
Speakers included Diego Goldin, NGV Global’s Executive Director, who spoke about the harmonization of standards and regulations as a key challenge; Dr. Jeffrey Seisler, NGV Global’s delegate responsible for the international regulatory activities at the United Nations in Geneva highlighted several new proposed amendments to the principle CNG Regulation 110 (R110), concerning NGV components and testing; Paul Dijkhof, from Kiwa, the research and testing institute in the Netherlands (and Member of the Board of NGV Global), presented the Dutch and European approaches to inspecting and monitoring CNG cylinders. Finally, Dan Bowerson, Technical Director from NGVAmerica provided information on issues and regulations for CNG inspections in North America.
Some of the key issues in the one-and-a-half-hour open discussion included:
- An amendment to R110 adopted in April 2018 that will require manufacturers and installers worldwide to create new designs for protective covers on CNG cylinders installed on vehicles that can be opened without the use of tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, etc.) to expose cylinders during periodic inspections. The amendment proposed by Germany will come into effect for retrofitters in September 2019. Vehicle manufacturers will be required to introduce new-style cylinder covers that can be opened without tools by national inspection authorities by September 2021.
- The value of creating a worldwide database of CNG cylinder manufacturers’ inspection manuals that could be a resource to national authorities responsible for Periodic Technical Inspections (PTI). Although R110 requires such information be made available by the manufacturer to ‘the purchaser’, that same information is generally not readily accessible to certification inspectors.
- Challenges facing cylinder/NGV system inspectors in the United States, which are implemented and enforced at the state level based on NFPA-52. There seems to be little consistency or harmonization of inspection methods and requirements from state-to-state unlike the Federal government approach to safety related to seat belts and child safety seats. The consensus seemed to be that, due to the relatively small size of the overall NGV market, inspections would continue to be implemented and enforced at the state level.
- Inspection of Type IV cylinders that have exterior dome covers is a contentious issue at the United Nations. Italy has proposed that the dome-end covers of Type IV fixed to the cylinders be removed for periodic inspections and recertification testing. Many stakeholders have advised that such a procedure will damage and de-certify the cylinder. The amendment was motivated by several Type IV cylinder failures in Italy. No consensus has yet been achieved on the proposal, which will be discussed further by a German-lead, ad hoc Task Force (date and location in Europe to-be-decided), in preparation for the October 2018 meeting of the Working Group on General Safety in Geneva.
- Opportunities and challenges for increased harmonization of requirements for periodic technical inspections of CNG cylinders. In North America NFPA-52 and NGV-6.1 are the two guidance documents most widely used. Fifty-eight other countries worldwide that are signatories to the United Nations automotive-related ‘conventions’ (treaties) rely on the UN Regulation 110. Still, there are wide variations on how this is implemented and enforced. But there was consensus that NGV Global and regional NGV industry associations should continue their efforts and advocacy toward more worldwide harmonization of these standards, regulations, and common practices for inspection and control of NGV safety, in particular.
The discussion highlighted the importance of NGV Global as an overarching industry organisation that responds to technology issues from all quarters with a wholistic approach, giving consideration to what is best for the international market and for the end user. A global economy demands such a perspective and ultimately makes for safer, more efficient, more economical product and practices, which in turn will further stimulate the growth of natural gas as a fuel for land and water based transportation.
NGV Global is planning future opportunities to engage its members and industry stakeholders in discussion and debate about other technical issues affecting the worldwide NGV technologies and markets.
A ‘Results Paper’ on the CNG cylinder inspection workshop will be produced and made available to members and registered workshop participants shortly.
Communication on matters arising out of the above discussion may be addressed to NGV Global at [email protected].
Source: NGV Global (www.ngvglobal.org)