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CNG, is it the Answer for the Fuel Crisis? (Part 3 of 3)

00:00AM Oct 23, 2008

Use to see refineries burning off natural gas to get it out of the way. Now natural gas will play a major role in American trucking. In California, Clean Truck Programs at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which starts this month (Oct. 08), bans trucks 1988 and older from entering the ports. January 1st 2010, trucks model year 1989-1993 will be banned from port terminals along with unretrofitted 1994-2003 trucks.

On January 1, 2012, all trucks must meet 2007 federal clean truck emission standards. Using natural gas in port trucks can reduce green house emissions by 20 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 75 percent. Sterling is producing for the port a truck powered by a Cummins Westport spark-ignited natural gas engines. Well maybe not, Daimler just announced the demise of Sterling in March of 2009. So more than likely Sterling's big brother, Freightliner will have natural gas trucks for the ports. The extra cost of the NG engines is being covered by grants from California.

Total Transportation Services, Inc., a transportation company in Rancho Dominguez, CA, trucks to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. TTSI is operating eight Kenworth T800 liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks, the first alternative-fuel vehicles to operate in full-time drayage service at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach under the major Clean Trucks Program. Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG is better quality, takes less space for fuel tanks compared to CNG. But takes special insulated tanks for 260 degrees below zero to keep it liquid.

TTS's eight Kenworth T800s are equipped with the LNG fuel system developed by Westport Innovations Inc. of Vancouver, B.C., and installed on the Cummins ISX 15L engine. The Kenworth T800 LNG Cummins ISX 15L engine has 450-hp and delivers 1,650 lb.-ft. of torque. The Kenworth trucks have Westport's High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology and use five percent diesel and 95 percent natural gas.

Earlier this decade, Cummins Westport Inc., a joint venture of Cummins Inc. and Westport Innovations Inc., in 2001 completed the first multiple-unit delivery of heavy-duty trucks using the low-emissions ISX-G heavy-duty natural gas engine. The multiple-unit delivery involved 14 Peterbilt heavy-duty trucks to Sanitary Fill Company in San Francisco, a subsidiary of Norcal Waste Systems Inc. Westport innovations of Vancouver BC installed on ISX 15L engines with Westport's High Pressure Direct Injection 5 percent diesel 95 percent natural gas

Read the Norcal Waste Systems natural gas truck test at The liquefied natural gas was hauled from Wyoming to Sacramento CA. In 2001 because of the high cost of transporting LNG to California, diesel fuel was cheaper than LNG. The test did show the diesel/natural gas engines performed better than the spark-ignition engines in prior test.

Back to pickup truck natural gas conversions, there are four types of tanks, all-metal or aluminum, hoop-wrapped steel or aluminum, fully-wrapped steel or aluminum, all composite, carbon fiber. Cylinders are stamped with expiration date when then need recertified from 15 to 20 years. Most fumigation diesel/cng conversions are for off road use only, as far as emissions certifications on the mechanical system goes. Deluca states that his new electronic system will be emission compliant. Conversions especially for diesels may or may not meet EPA requirements, be sure to do your own research on the law. I interviewed a school bus company that tried cng a decade ago. In a test trip cross country found different cng fill nipples in each state. They had to wait while the next nipple came to them UPS. Now there are just two nipples at fill stations across the country, fleet size and public size.

Normal driving, diesel/cng conversion kits lower boost and EGT's (exhaust gas temperature), but just like a programmer, drive hard, tow big trailers in the mountains and you can increase EGT heat. More power produces heat. As with engine power modifications, you should add an EGT gauge to your truck with a diesel/cng conversion.

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Author H. Kent Sundling writes for via a special agreement with