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NGVAmerica News Week in Review: December 7, 2015

  • FCA US Launches Fleet of 179 Natural Gas-Powered Trucks in Michigan
  • Congress Passes Highway Bill with Strong Support of NGVs
  • EPA Finalizes Renewable Fuel Standard RFS Volumes for 2014 – 2016
  • NGVAmerica Issues Technology Bulletin – Cold Weather Notice for Natural Gas PRDs
  • Transit Consortium Awards New Flyer Contract for up to 159 CNG Buses
  • Spire Opens New CNG Fueling Station in Upstate South Carolina
  • WCA Waste Launches Its First Public CNG Fueling Station
  • TruStar Energy Completes Construction on Large Station for FCA US Fleet
  • Shell Opens Second LNG Truck Fueling Station in California
  • Agility Supports Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Transition to Natural Gas
  • Quantum Delivers Q-Cab160 Systems to OEM Truck Mod Center for Install


FCA US Launches Fleet of 179 Natural Gas-Powered Trucks in Michigan

December 4, 2015

FCA US announced that it has invested $40 million in FCA Transport, the FCA US-owned truck fleet, to convert its 179 Detroit-based parts-haulers to run on clean-burning CNG rather than diesel fuel. The move gives FCA the largest private fleet of CNG-powered heavy-duty vehicles in the state of Michigan.

“Our transition to CNG reflects the way FCA US attempts to balance our search for profitability with social responsibility and community development, including environmental stewardship,” said Steve Beahm, Senior Vice President – Supply Chain Management, FCA – North America. “This project was a win-win-win—it offered a solid business case, clear environmental benefits and an opportunity to invest in our Detroit facility and workforce.”

FCA Transport, built in 1965, is located in Detroit, just across from the Detroit City Airport. The Company spent $1.8 million to enable the 36,000 sq. ft. maintenance facility to handle the new CNG fleet. The $5 million on-site CNG fueling station was designed and built by TruStar Energy and, according to FCA, is the largest private CNG station in North America.

Prior to the changeover, the FCA Transport Detroit fleet used nearly 2.6 million gallons of diesel fuel per year while driving about 16 million miles to deliver parts to assembly plants from suppliers and FCA US component facilities. The company expects to experience net fuel cost savings of about 35 percent per year with the CNG-powered fleet. Beyond cost savings, FCA Transport estimates the Detroit fleet’s transition to CNG will reduce significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

FCA Transport’s transformation is a product of our dedicated, engaged workforce and close collaboration with the UAW,” said Marty DiFiore, Head of FCA Transport and Auto Transport Services, FCA US. “Today is the culmination of two years of research and planning, an extensive pilot program of CNG trucks and ongoing training of more than 6,000 hours.”

FCA Transport drivers and mechanics participated in extensive hands-on training to prepare them to drive, fuel and maintain the new trucks. It included maintenance, repair and operating courses taught by Cummins, Allison Transmission, Agility Fuel Systems and FCA’s own in-house trainers.

FCA US offers the Ram 2500 Compressed Natural Gas truck, the industry’s first factory-built pickup powered by CNG.


Congress Passes Highway Bill with Strong Support of NGVs

December 4, 2015

NGVAmerica applauds House and Senate passage of a five year surface transportation bill that was later signed by President Obama. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act includes significant provisions to advance natural gas as a transportation fuel that have been advocated by NGVAmerica.

“Congress recognizes the value of using clean-burning natural gas in transportation, and the FAST Act will help put more natural gas vehicles on American roads,” said Matthew Godlewski, President of NGVAmerica.  “This legislation will assist fleets and consumers transition to cleaner, low-cost, domestic natural gas to power their vehicles.”

Provisions contained in the FAST Act include a weight exemption that allows heavy-duty natural gas trucks to exceed the federal weight limits up to 82,000 pounds to compensate for the additional weight of natural gas fuel systems and tanks. This provision would level the playing field for natural gas trucks that are currently unable to haul the same amount of freight as diesel-powered trucks.

Another key provision creates regulatory parity for NGVs by allowing automakers to more accurately calculate fuel economy of bi-fuel NGVs. The current credit assumes bi-fuel NGVs operate 50 percent of the time on gasoline instead of natural gas, and therefore do not fully reflect the benefits of bi-fuel natural gas vehicles.

Additionally, the FAST Act includes provisions that: expand the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program to, among other things, clarify that port facilities qualify for funding; create alternative fuel infrastructure corridors, including natural gas fueling stations along major national highways; and extend a state’s ability to provide HOV lane access for NGVs and other dedicated alternative fuel vehicles until 2025.

“NGVAmerica commends Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and other Congressional leaders for including key NGV provisions in the bipartisan FAST Act,” said Godlewski.  “We have more work to do to further grow the market for natural gas vehicles, and Congress has sent a strong message today in support of more fuel diversity in the American economy.”


EPA Finalizes Renewable Fuel Standard RFS Volumes for 2014 – 2016

November 30, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized volume requirement for the Renewable Fuel Standard or RFS2.  The volumes include levels for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The new rules pave the way for increased use of renewable natural gas which qualifies under the federal program as a cellulosic fuel and as an advanced biofuel.

The RFS2 program has been hotly contested by opponents and supporters of the program.  Many organizations on both sides of the debate expressed their displeasure with the final rules. For biofuel  supporters, the concern is that the proposed levels announced fall far short of targets (see chart below) originally established for the program under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007(EISA). Oil industry advocates including petroleum marketers and retailers have expressed concerns that the higher levels unnecessarily increase fuel costs and require them to blend levels of ethanol into gasoline that could lead to problems for gasoline cars.

According to an EPA fact sheet released with the rule, the percentage of renewable fuel blended into the nation’s motor fuel supply will increase from 9.19 percent in 2014 to 10.10 percent in 2016 under these rules.  However, not all of this fuel is blended into gasoline as some biofuels are blended into diesel fuel, and others, like renewable natural gas, are consumed indirectly in alternative fuel vehicles.

The chart below shows the comparison between the statutory, proposed and finalized levels for the program:

Renewable Fuel Standard Volume Levels (RFS2)
(billion gls) EISA 2014 EPA Proposal Final 2014 Volumes EISA 2015 EPA Proposal Final 2015 Volumes EISA 2016 EPA Proposal Final 2016 Volumes
Cellulosic biofuel 1.75 0.033 0.033 3 0.106 0.123 4.25 0.206 0.230
Biomass-based diesel 1.63 1.63 1.7 1.73 1.8 2.0
Advanced biofuel 3.75 2.68 2.67 5.5 2.9 2.88 7.25 3.4 3.61
Total 18.2 15.93 16.28 20.5 16.3 16.93 22.25 17.4 18.11

Note: Columns do not add up. Conventional ethanol levels not shown.  Gallons are ethanol equivalent gallons except for biomass diesel volume which are actual gallons.

The RFS2 rules are of interest to natural gas vehicle advocates because renewable natural gas qualifies as a cellulosic biofuel and advanced biofuel, and a number of natural gas companies are now actively engaged in facilitating the increased use of renewable natural gas in their businesses. Also, a number of major fleets have recently committed to using a larger percentage of renewable natural gas to fuel their NGVs. Renewable natural gas qualifies for valuable credits that can be sold to obligated parties under the RFS2 program, and these credits help offset the cost of producing and marketing renewable natural gas.  In addition to being a domestic, renewable fuel, renewable natural gas provides significant greenhouse gas emission reductions when compared to conventional fueled vehicles, and therefore is attractive to fleets that have aggressive environmental sustainability goals.

The final rule and other information about this program are available here.


NGVAmerica Issues Technology Bulletin – Cold Weather Notice for Natural Gas PRDs

December 7, 2015

NGVAmerica has issued a new technical bulletin on the use of pressure relief devices (PRDs) in cold weather. NGV owners and operators should be aware that moisture trapped in PRDs and in PRD vent lines can freeze and cause damage.  This reminder becomes important during the winter months when freezing temperatures are common. Ice damage in PRDs and PRD vent lines can result in the following unintended consequences:

  • unexpected activation of the PRD, resulting in the release of the fuel tank contents,
  • PRD leaks, or
  • PRDs not being able to activate.

PRDs are intended to be used as a safety device for NGVs by releasing the natural gas fuel tank contents in the case of a vehicle fire.  The location of PRDs can vary, but they are typically located at one or both ends of the NGV fuel tanks.  In cases where multiple NGV fuel tanks are used, the PRDs may be in a manifold configuration, typically connected to a vent port.

Incidents have shown that moisture from rainwater and vehicle washes may enter the PRD vent systems through accessible openings.  Vent outlets that are open due to missing moisture caps are a very common point of entry for water; however, loose fitting caps can also allow moisture to enter the PRD vent system.  Moisture collected in a PRD system can cause PRD internal components to become distorted, resulting in premature PRD activation.  This potential failure mode exists on any CNG fuel systems with openings in the vent system, but has been most prominent on vehicles with roof mounted PRD systems.

The Natural Gas Vehicle Storage and Delivery Recommended Practices, NGV 6.1, will address some of these concerns; however, the release of the document will not occur until summer 2016.  NGV manufacturers typically recommend routine inspection of PRD vent systems to verify the integrity of the vent lines and assure that all vent caps are in place.  The occurrence of this inspection varies between vehicles.  NGV owners and operators are encouraged to consult their vehicle owner’s guide and/or the manufacturer for appropriate inspection procedures.  If vent caps are discovered to be missing, or there are other signs of moisture present in the PRD vent system, the owner/operator should contact their vehicle manufacturer immediately for recommended actions.


NGVAmerica has taken great effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained in this document; however, this document is provided “as is” and neither NGVAmerica nor its employees or agents make any representation, warranty or guarantee in connection with this document, express or implied.  NGVAmerica and its members companies disclaim liability for any personal injury, property or other damages of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect, consequential or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance on this document.  Nothing contained in this document should be viewed as an endorsement or disapproval of any particular service provider or products.  The information contained in this document is not intended as legal advice. Questions regarding this document should be sent to: NGVAmerica, 400 N. Capitol St., N.W., Suite 450, Washington, D.C. 20001.


Transit Consortium Awards New Flyer Contract for up to 159 CNG Buses

December 1, 2015

New Flyer announced that the Greater Lafayette Public Transit Corporation of Lafayette, Indiana, in conjunction with other transit authorities awarded a contract to New Flyer for up to 159 urban transit buses to be purchased over the next five years. The other transit authorities include Rock Island Metro, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, South Bend Public Transportation and Santa Rosa Transit.

The Xcelsior bus will include options for 35-foot, 40-foot or 60-foot models powered by CNG, as well as diesel and diesel-electric hybrid buses, while the MiDi bus will include options 30-foot CNG and diesel configurations.

Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation acting as the lead agency operates 24 routes serving a ridership of approximately 5.2 million passengers annually. Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District of Champaign, Illinois, operates exclusively a New Flyer bus fleet providing over 12 million rides per year.  Rock Island Quad Cities MetroLINK of Illinois has 55 routes with an annual ridership of 3.5 million passengers. South Bend TRANSPO of Indiana serves 20 routes providing 2.5 million rides annually. Santa Rosa CityBus of California has 55 routes and provides 2.8 million trips per year.

“This contract reflects a developing trend of transit bus procurements where a number of agencies work cooperatively through a joint procurement to acquire buses” said Paul Soubry, New Flyer’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “For the agencies, it utilizes a federally funded framework that provides an effective and a flexible vehicle to renew their bus fleet over time.”


Spire Opens New CNG Fueling Station in Upstate South Carolina

December 1, 2015

Spire Natural Gas Fueling Solutions (Spire) has opened a new public CNG station in Greenville, South Carolina. The station is conveniently located off I-85 and offers customers a full-service convenience store featuring food, drinks and restrooms.

“We are excited that the trucking community in Greenville has started the shift to compressed natural gas,” said Peter Stansky, president and chief operating officer for Spire. “We designed this station with the heavy-duty truck driver in mind, from easy access to the station and a wide turning radius to fast fueling pumps that get drivers back on the road quickly and safely.”

The Spire CNG station uses equipment from leading manufacturers to provide an efficient and safe fueling experience. The station is able to accommodate Class 8 trucks, as well as light-duty consumer vehicles.


WCA Waste Launches Its First Public CNG Fueling Station

December 1, 2015

WCA Waste Corporation has launched its first public CNG fueling station in Gainesville, Florida. The new statino is open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can accommodate both passenger cars and heavy-duty trucks powered by clean-burning natural gas. The station also accepts all major credit cards and fleet cards.

“We are proud to offer the residents and businesses of Florida a cleaner fuel alternative in transportation to reduce greenhouse emissions and improve air quality throughout the region,” stated Bob Shires, WCA Regional Vice President. “WCA embraces new opportunities and methods to advance our sustainability efforts in the community.”

WCA provides solid waste and recycling services to the City of Gainesville and Alachua County. In addition, WCA is also the official sustainability partner of the University of Florida and has successfully designed solid waste reduction and recycling programs to ensure best solid waste management practices.


TruStar Energy Completes Construction on Large Station for FCA US Fleet

December 7, 2015

TruStar Energy has completed construction of a private CNG fueling station at FCA US’s North American Detroit Terminal in Detroit, Michigan. The new station will fuel 179 CNG trucks in FCA Transport’s fleet with cleaner, domestically produced natural gas. With six Ariel compressors able to dispense CNG at nearly 40 GGE per minute, it is the largest private fast-fill station in North America, according to TruStar.

“Allocating FCA US resources to convert the fleet to CNG not only yields the company long-term cost savings, it significantly reduces CO2 emissions and continues the company’s leadership in the areas of technological advancement and sustainability,” said Marty DiFiore, head of FCA Transport. “We’re also sending a strong signal to the Detroit community that we’re going to play a supportive role in the City’s comeback.”

The FCA Transport fleet delivers parts and materials to FCA US assembly plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada. The largest private CNG fueling station built by TruStar Energy to date, the project was completed for the FCA Transport fleet in under six months. TruStar Energy owns, will operate and maintain the station and will provide CNG for FCA US under a long-term supply contract.

“TruStar Energy worked closely with FCA US to build a tailored solution on a very aggressive time schedule,” said Scott Edelbach, General Manager for Construction and Service Operations for TruStar Energy. “Getting it done quickly and on time with our partners and DTE Energy delivered significant cost savings for FCA US.”

The station features six Ariel 300-horsepower compressors packaged by ANGI, a PSB dual-tower gas dryer and three ANGI fast-fill dispensers.


Shell Opens Second LNG Truck Fueling Station in California

December 1, 2015

Shell celebrated the opening of new LNG lanes at a TravelCenters of America (TA) truck fueling station in Santa Nella, California. The new LNG station is the second in California for Shell and follows on the heels of the opening of LNG fueling lanes in Texas and Louisiana earlier this year. The station is strategically located along the interstate highway in Northern California, a region with heavy truck traffic. Shell’s first LNG fueling station in the US was opened in California in 2014. Since then, the network has now grown to seven sites across the US and Canada. This new station will provide LNG fueling service for operators out of Los Angeles (Ontario) up along the Highway 5 corridor.

“I am excited by the progress we have made in developing the LNG fueling network in the US,” said Elen Phillips, Shell’s Vice President Fuels Sales and Marketing for North America.

As customer demand grows in the US, Shell and TA plan to open additional truck fueling lanes. “Shell is committed to developing LNG as a fuel option for marine and road transport, and we continue to look at supply opportunities in the region in balance with demand,” said Christian Buelow, Shell’s General Manager Downstream LNG Americas.


Agility Supports Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Transition to Natural Gas

December 5, 2015

Agility Fuel Systems, the leading developer and manufacturer of natural gas fuel systems for heavy duty vehicles in North America, participated in the launch of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) inter-company truck fleet transition to CNG. FCA is investing $40 million to deploy 179 Class 8 parts hauling trucks from diesel to CNG.

Agility Fuel Systems has worked closely with FCA to provide their latest behind-the-cab fuel system with a capacity of 160 DGE and an operating range of over 600 miles. Agility also took an active role in training their drivers and mechanics at their Detroit facility. “We are excited to see FCA Transport transitioning to CNG, and leading by example in reducing their environmental footprint while reducing their cost of operations. They are demonstrating with their actions their commitment to be great stewards of the environment,” said Scott Lucero, Vice President of Sales for Agility Fuel Systems.


Quantum Delivers Q-Cab160 Systems to OEM Truck Mod Center for Install

November 30, 2015

Quantum Fuel Systems delivered its Q-Cab160 back-of-cab CNG storage system to a truck OEM for installation on a natural gas-powered tractor to be installed at the OEM’s Truck Mod center. These OEM installs allow for the company’s systems to be installed either directly at the OEM or through secondary installation facilities, providing end users alternatives and flexibility depending on program delivery locations and preferences.

“We are energized to see further developments with our OEM relationships,” said Mr. Brian Olson, President and CEO of Quantum. “Quantum continues to work with its OEM and industry partners to make the customer purchase process of a CNG truck as tailored as possible to satisfy the needs of the end user.”