NREL and California Partners to Provide up to $13.5M to Support Natural Gas Engine and Vehicle Development; Focus on Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks and Buses

The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the California Energy Commission (CEC), and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) will invest up to $13.5 million to support the development of natural gas engines and vehicles. As part of the cost-shared projects, companies selected for awards will invest nearly $8 million in additional funds to support $21 million in total projects.

NREL will oversee the Natural Gas Engine Research and Development projects to develop highly efficient natural gas engines that: meet or exceed 2010 emission standards; integrate natural gas engines into different chassis and vehicle platforms; and verify fuel efficiency, petroleum reduction, and emissions benefits in real-world operation.

The focus is on medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses, which currently represent 22% of the fuel used in on-road vehicles.

Significant increases in the projected amount of natural gas available in the US have stimulated renewed interest in using it to fuel commercial vehicles. More engine and vehicle choices are needed, however, for natural gas to be a practical alternative to petroleum-based fuels for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses. And that’s where this project comes in.

—NREL Project Manager Margo Melendez

NREL issued a Request for Proposals in March that focused on expanding the availability of market-ready natural gas engines and vehicles. More than 20 companies submitted proposals, indicating significant industry interest in this program.

The following projects have been selected for awards:

  • Emissions Solutions, Inc., McKinney, Texas. Develop equipment and controls to retrofit a Navistar 13-liter diesel engine to operate on natural gas. These engines operate in a wide variety of Class 8 vehicles (such as short and long-haul delivery trucks) across the US today.

  • ISE Corporation, Poway, Calif. Develop a hybrid natural gas transit bus based on the Ford V10 gasoline engine.

  • Cummins Westport, Vancouver, Canada and Autocar LLC, Hagarstown, Ind. Develop an 11.9-liter natural gas engine and integrate it into refuse trucks and Class 8 delivery trucks around the nation to verify performance in different climates, altitudes, and driving environments (i.e., city and highway).

  • Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas and Autocar LLC, Hararstown, Ind. Redesign an existing Doosan engine to accommodate natural gas fueling. Build prototype engines for durability and emissions testing. Integrate engines into an Autocar ACX chassis, typically used for refuse hauling.

NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

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