January 29, 2014

Feature Focus - James Saunders: "Never Stop Asking Why"

As a Life Cycle Emissions Analyst, James Saunders says one of the most important skills to accomplishing his work is maintaining a child-like curiosity and constantly asking “why.”

James analyzes the environmental benefits of different types of new and existing Westport technology. Translation: he looks at how a Westport product works, why it works the way it does, its benefits and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“I look at how we can use energy in a more efficient and responsible way,” he says. “I see natural gas a way to do that, and a stepping stone to doing that with a lower carbon footprint.”

James works on a wide range of Westport technology, including high pressure direct injection (HPDI), spark-ignited technologies and combustion technologies.

He works with the advanced technology and strategy teams at Westport and also liaises with engineers from Westport’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners, bringing his mechanical engineering skills and sustainability expertise to every project. He collaborates with cryogenic and service engineers, among others, running calculations, experiments and completing technology analysis.
James Saunders, Westport Life Cycle Emissions Analyst:
"I look at how we can use energy in a more efficient and responsible way."
His interest in clean energy research was born at UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre, where he completed his doctorate in optical diagnostic techniques applied to high temperature fuel cell technologies.

January 24, 2014

OSU Cascades Tries On-Board Compressors for NGVs

An OSU Cascades research team is finding a cheaper way for natural gas vehicle fueling at home

While natural gas fuel stations are opening across the United States, the concern of consistently finding fuel is still a stumbling block for the average consumer wanting to buy a natural gas vehicle (NGV). One solution is home fueling, and a team led by Dr. Chris Hagen, Assistant Professor, Energy Systems Engineering at Oregon State University (OSU) Cascades, thinks it has the answer.

OSU secured U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding in 2012 to modify a passenger vehicle so its internal combustion could be used to compress natural gas for storage on the vehicle. The goal is to reduce the cost and time for home-refueling, and to improve the convenience and cost for the average consumer owning a natural gas vehicle.

With over $900,000 of DOE ARPA-E funding, Dr. Hagen is the principal investigator, with support from Colorado State University and engineering firm CZero, Inc. He’s also co-founded a company to develop the technology commercially.

Dr. Hagen said the team wanted to leverage the sophistication of the modern internal combustion engine when brainstorming for a natural gas solution. Using the engine to act as the compressor, they don’t have repeating parts in a compressor on the garage wall, reducing the overall cost of self-fueling.

Dr. Hagen's team at OSU
L to R, Dr. Chris Hagen, Zachary Taie, Robert Elgin III, Josh Tibbitts in the OSU Energy Systems Laboratory next to their bi-modal compression/combustion engine
The design concept involves adapting one of the cylinders to compress gas when parked overnight. This could enable wider adoption of natural gas because vehicle owners have the freedom to fill up at home or elsewhere. Owners could fuel at a fueling station, at home, or even another’s home when traveling – provided the friends have a natural gas utility connection enabled for it. “One of the beauties of this technology,” says Hagen, “is that the compressor rides with you.”

The development engine was modified to allow for two separate “modes” of operation. In commute mode used for driving, the engine runs as normal, firing on all cylinders. In refueling mode, the one or two modified engine cylinders compress gas while the other cylinders operate normally to power the compression and cool the system.

January 23, 2014

Cummins Westport President Gordon Exel Presents at World LNG Fuels 2014

Gordon Exel, President of Cummins Westport, spoke to a crowd of around 500 at World LNG Fuels 2014 on January 22 in Houston, Texas on the panel Leading Projects, Trends in LNG-Fueled Highway Trucking.

Other panel presenters Andrew Littlefair, President and CEO, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., Scott Lavery, Vice President, UPS and Bob Nimocks, chairman of the World LNG Fuels 2014 program committee rounded out the panel who agreed that liquefied natural gas (LNG), though not a prevalent as compressed natural gas (CNG) today, will be the choice of the future for over the road trucking.

Gordon Exel, President of Cummins Westport, was part of the Leading Projects, Trends in LNG-Fueled Highway Trucking panel at World LNG Fuels 2014. He was joined by Andrew Littlefair, President and CEO, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., Scott Lavery, Vice President, UPS and Bob Nimocks, chairman of the World LNG Fuels 2014 program committee.

January 21, 2014

NGV Today Survey Finds Cummins Westport ISX12 G the Biggest NGV News of 2013

Cummins Westport ISX12 G
Industry publication NGV Today has called the Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine the highest-impact news of 2013 in the North American NGV space, according to a poll of the publication’s readers in late December.

2013 was the launch year of the Cummins Westport ISX12 G with most major OEMs offering the 320-400 horsepower engine in multiple chassis for applications such as refuse and short-haul. Many fleets have now received their orders, among them Seaboard, UPS, FedEx, Linde and others.

“The ISX12 G product launch has been a success,” said Gordon Exel, President of Cummins Westport. “All the OEMs are actively engaged and taking and delivering orders in a variety of applications up to 80,000 pounds GVW. We are seeing both CNG and LNG fuel applications as fuelling infrastructure becomes available.”

January 17, 2014

Creating the Roadmap for Success - Westport’s iCE PACK Service Team

Launching a new product requires the collaboration of several teams, each bringing their own expertise and particular skill set to ensure that launch, delivery and service all function perfectly. 

Westport’s service team has been a crucial part of the launch of the Westport iCE PACK™ LNG Tank System. Before a product launches, the service team ensures customers will have a seamless and positive experience as they drive with a new liquefied natural gas fuel system.

Product service is a key consideration during product development. A customer care plan is created by field service, warranty and service engineering staff, and released prior to product launch.

Service engineers work with a wide variety of other engineering teams throughout product development. Westport’s iCE PACK service engineers work with their counterparts in controls, cryogenics, and vehicle integration teams.

“When you buy a car, most dealerships just hand you the keys and say thank-you have a nice day,” says Bryan Fargo, Westport’s Manager of Field Operations. “That’s what a lot of our competitors do. But we prefer to thoroughly review the customer’s operation, as well as provide a product overview including operation and inspection.”

The customer care plan includes training development, with onsite visits to both the dealer and the customer. Westport field service representatives visit the customer site, train them and also often include an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) representative before day one on the road.
Steve Froese, a Westport Service Engineer, installs an integrated gas module  as part of the Westport iCE PACK LNG Tank System.

January 16, 2014

Utah Forges Ahead with Natural Gas Vehicles

From school bus to state fleet conversions, Utah is rapidly pursuing the adoption of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) through proposed state-level legislation.

One prominent initiative currently underway is House Bill (HB) 41. It would allocate $20 million towards Utah’s Board of Education for school district grants to replace buses manufactured before 2002 with alternative fuel-powered buses, including those that run on compressed natural gas (CNG).

Grant monies would also support infrastructure development for natural gas school bus fleets by installing alternative fuel stations or retrofitting existing maintenance facilities to service or maintain alternative-fuel school buses.

January 10, 2014

Washington State Ferries Sails Towards LNG

Managing the fuelling needs and costs of a ferry system that carries over 23 million passengers a year and operates 450 sailings a day on ten routes is no easy task.

As North America’s largest ferry operator, Washington State Ferries (WSJ) burns around 17.5 million gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) per year.

That’s no small line item.

Fuel is the agency’s fastest growing operating expense – in 2000 it made up just 11 per cent of the annual operating budget, compared to 23 per cent in 2013.

David Moseley, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Ferries Division Assistant Secretary, says the agency started looking at the possibility of using liquefied natural gas (LNG) about three and a half years ago.

“There are really two reasons,” he says. “One is the rising cost of petroleum fuel and the other major factor was emissions. We have an obligation to reduce our emissions and LNG is a cleaner-burning fuel.” 

WSJ is currently considering converting six vessels in their Issaquah Class of ferries. The vessels are 30 years old and have another 30 years of expected operational life remaining.

January 9, 2014

Fairbanks Natural Gas: Powering the Community with LNG

Fairbanks Natural Gas (FNG) knows what it takes to move natural gas. The company, an Alaska-based utility, provides natural gas to over 1,000 residential and business customers in Fairbanks Alaska. In order to offer natural gas to its patrons, FNG’s sister company, Titan Alaska LNG, transports liquefied natural gas (LNG) by way of truck and trailer after condensing and storing it at its plant in Big Lake Alaska.

Part of Titan’s fleet includes Kenworth T800 trucks powered with Westport’s 15 L HPDI engine. Titan owns these units, however leases them to a third-party transport provider.

“We produce LNG and we want to promote the use of LNG in transportation,” says Dan Britton, FNG President and CEO. “An important piece for us in making the decision was the availability of a natural-gas powered original equipment manufacturer vehicle, as opposed to an after-market conversion.”
Fairbanks Natural Gas and its sister company, Titan Alaska LNG, use natural gas-powered Kenworth T800 trucks to transport LNG from Big Lake to Fairbanks, Alaska.