Drive Projects Will Demonstrate Efficiency of Heavy Duty Natural Gas Engines


Two heavy duty natural gas vehicle technology projects are included in the array of proposals approved for funding by “Drive”, California’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The first seeks to demonstrate the efficiency of a natural gas engine for demanding applications, while the second will demonstrate a hybrid-electric drive system that uses a natural-gas-powered micro-turbine.

Gas Technology Institute Grant for the Late Stage Development, Demonstration, and Product Launch of Cummins Westport Isx11.9g Natural Gas Engine Project (ARV-09-013)

The Gas Technology Institute and Cummins Westport, Inc. will demonstrate a unique, low-emission, high efficiency natural-gas engine designed for regional hauling and heavy vocational truck applications. The advanced ISX11.9 G natural gas engine fills an important market gap – there is currently no such engine option available for long distance class 8 trucking.

Swift Transportation will demonstrate one of the engines in a highway tractor for 12 months, logging approximately 2,000 miles per month while hauling loads up to 80,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight.

The project will complete all necessary development, testing, certifying, and demonstration needed to commercialize the ISX11.9 G natural gas engine, with a goal of achieving 20 percent market penetration for this class of engine.

The grant amount of $1,777,364, will be matched by $3,600,000 from the project’s participants.

Project Participants

  • Gas Technology Institute (GTI) is an Illinois-based, not-for-profit Research and Development organization for the energy industry. For this project GTI will provide overall project leadership and management.
  • Cummins Westport Inc.(CWI) is a joint venture company of Cummins Inc. and Westport Innovations Inc. which was formed in 2001. Indiana-based CWI will be the technical lead in the project, providing engine development, engineering, fabrication, testing, and performance verification.
  • Swift Transportation is one of the largest on-highway freight carriers in the world. Swift Transportation will function as a demonstration partner and will demonstrate one engine in a highway tractor for 12 months.
  • Cummins Cal-Pacific, CWI’s California distributor, will assist and support the vehicle testing and data collection process here in the state.

Project Benefits

The new engine should improve fuel economy up to 10 percent from current spark-ignited natural-gas powered engines used in Class 8 trucks. The project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 25 percent and fuel use by at least 20 percent or the equivalent of 10,770 diesel gallons per truck annually.

Kenworth Truck Company Grant for the Deployment of a Next Generation Alternative Fuel Power Truck Project (ARV-09-012)

For heavy-duty class 8 trucks, the Kenworth Truck Company will demonstrate a hybrid-electric drive system that uses a natural-gas-powered micro-turbine. The goal of the project is to make cost and efficiency improvements to the hybrid system and its batteries. The system will use an intercooled recuperated (ICR) 350 kilowatt microturbine that will be run on natural gas because of the fuel’s low emissions and low cost.

FedEx will take delivery of the demonstration truck and integrate the vehicle into its on-going operations starting in 2012. The test vehicle will be equipped with data-logging equipment to record information on the vehicle’s operation for analysis.

The system will initially be designed for class 8 trucks, but can be readily scaled to fit all class 6, 7, and 8 vehicles over a wide range of operations. Kenworth projects that this technology will be commercially viable in 2013.

The grant amount $1,458,735 will be matched by $1,603,325 from the project’s participants.

Project Participants

  • Kenworth Truck Company, a leading manufacturer of heavy and medium duty trucks, will serve as the technical lead and developer for this project.
  • Capstone Turbine Corporation, headquartered in Chatsworth, California, will provide the microturbine and demonstration support.
  • Brayton Energy LLC, an engine research and development firm, will provide technical support.
  • Arvin Meritor, a truck drive train component supplier, will provide the class 8 Dual Mode Hybrid Drive system.
  • Southern California Gas Company will provide technical and marketing oversight, and fuel management support.
  • Clean Energy, the largest provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in the US, will coordinate fuel delivery for this project.
  • Global shipper FedEx Corporation will conduct the field test for this project.
  • CalStart, a non-profit organization focused on the growth of clean transportation, will provide program management for this project and will coordinate all activities of the project team.

Project Benefits

This project can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 46 tons and diesel fuel by 13,800 gallons per truck per year. At full commercialization, this project can create over 6,000 high tech and green tech jobs on a sustainable basis in California by 2025 to 2030. Six hundred California jobs per thousand units are projected just for the microturbine manufacturing and assembly.

More information on the range of approved natural gas projects under the Drive program can be found here.

(This article was compiled using information from the California Energy Commission website)

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