NGVConnection Newsletter - April 2014


 


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Upgrading Refuse Fleets to CNG: Three Considerations Beyond Economics

By Annalloyd Thomason, Vice President/General Manager, NGVi    

 


Perspectives with Kurt Sorschak, President and CEO of Xebec Adsorption Inc.

By Kasia McBride, Marketing Manager, NGVi

Kurt SorchakRecently, NGVi had the chance to sit down with Kurt Sorschak, President and CEO of Xebec Adsorption Inc. An NGVi sponsor, Xebec Adsorption Inc. is a global provider of clean energy solutions to corporations and governments looking to reduce their carbon footprints. Xebec designs and builds biogas upgrading plants for landfill gas, waste water treatment and manufactures natural gas dryers for the natural gas vehicle (NGV) market.

Can you share a little about Xebec? Your company background, history, and what your primary target market in North America is?

Xebec was founded in 1965, and has 40 years’ experience designing and manufacturing equipment for the purification, dehydration and filtration of gases. Xebec’s four main product segments are: Natural Gas Dryers for NGV refueling stations, Biogas Plants for the purification of biogas from agricultural digesters, landfill sites and waste water treatment plants, Hydrogen Purification Systems for steam methane reformers, refinery off-gases and other sources, and Associated or Field Gas Purification Systems that purify wellhead gas to certain specifications so that the gas can be used to displace diesel engines with natural gas engines at drilling sites.

Are there any new announcements you would like to share?

Twin-Tower Natural Gas Desiccant Dryer

First, Xebec is launching at ACT Expo in May, a new range of filtration products, the X-Series, which has been specifically designed for natural gas applications and will complement our current filtration offerings. There are three new filter lines which will accommodate pressure ranges up to 290 psig, 725 psig and 6000 psig (20, 50 and 420 bar). The range comes with seven different element grades for coalescing and particulate filtration of natural gas. We will also offer a range of adsorbent-filled filter elements for VOC removal, as well as an optimized range of accessories.

At Xebec, we pride ourselves in exceptional customer service, so our goal with the new line is not only to supply a great product, but to give our customers the best service and highest technical support possible. This means direct, live technical support, an easy ordering system and stock ready to ship.

Second, we have just recently announced the opening of Xebec USA in Houston, TX and have appointed two senior executives to lead the effort. 

Mr. Parag Jhonsa joins Xebec as President of Xebec Adsorption USA and Mr. Gary Blizzard will fill the role of Vice President for Sales and Process Engineering. Both Parag and Gary have vast experience in the energy industry and we are very excited to have them on board. We have been planning to open an office in the U.S. for the past several years, but have not been able to find the right partners until now. Having a dedicated office in Houston will enable Xebec to serve our U.S. customers better than ever.

What are your main natural gas-related products and services and what sets them apart from your competitors?

Our main natural gas products are our NGX line of natural gas dryers for CNG fueling stations and our new X-Series line of gas filtration products.

I believe what really sets us apart from the competition is the excellent support and service we provide our customers. Delivering a quality product at a good price is a given. Customers need fast lead times, on time delivery and most importantly solid technical support when selecting a gas dryer for their station or identifying the right filter product. Choosing the right filter and the right media for a particular gas application can be complicated. Having a technical representative you can talk to is essential in providing excellent service.

Regenerable Heat Reactivated Twin-Tower Natural Gas Desiccant DryerDoes Xebec recommend that customers specify a dew-point monitor when ordering a natural gas dryer? 

Yes, Xebec deems this feature as an essential part of a NGV dryer, regardless of the model. The dew-point monitor will determine when the desiccant needs to be replaced (non-regenerative dryer) or regenerated.

Is every Xebec dryer sold into the United States NGV market a custom-sized and designed dryer? What are the specific design parameters (flow, pressure, water content, etc.) used to size the dryer? 

The minimum required parameters to size a particular application are flow, pressure, water content, temperature, and location of the installation. Unless otherwise given, we use the relatively standard pipeline water content of 7lbs H2O per MMSCF and 70F as the temperature. The location of the installation will determine whether freezing will occur and if a cold weather package needs to be quoted for the dryer. Xebec offers a standard line of dryers from 6” to 36” vessel diameter covering 150 through 300 psig. Xebec can build custom gas dryers up to 72” vessel diameter and 1200 psig.

Are dryers sized to the actual recorded moisture content of the natural gas, or are they all designed assuming 7lbs/MMSCF? 

Unless the customer lists the actual water content, Xebec assumes 7lbs/MMSCF.

Does Xebec generally inform its customers regarding the frequency of dryer regeneration?

Xebec always lists the number of hours required between regeneration. This information is essential, as some stations have differing duty cycles (8, 12, 16 or 24 hours per day)

Regerable Single-tower Natural Gas Desiccant DryerIf a customer does not order a dew-point-monitor for their dryer, does Xebec recommend a regeneration frequency? 

 

Yes, either a desiccant change out, or a regeneration frequency.

What is your perspective on the growth of natural gas vehicle usage in North America?

All of the reports I have been seeing predict a 20 to 25% increase in the NGV market in the U.S. and this shows no sign of stopping. It is encouraging to see that the market has finally taken off in the U.S.

What changes/opportunities do you foresee associated with increasing demand for CNG fueling stations? 

I think the most exciting change we see is all of the new players in the industry.  It is great to see so many new companies committed to natural gas as a transportation fuel and committed to a cleaner environment.

Do you plan to attend ACT Expo 2014? If so, what is your booth number?

Xebec will be at ACT Expo with a brand new booth and we are very excited about launching the X-Series and receiving customer feedback. Our booth number is 757.

Basics of LNG Operation and Safety
By Kasia McBride, Marketing Manager, NGVi

According to research done by Frost & Sullivan, by 2017, approximately 8% of new North American class 6-8 trucks will be powered by natural gas. While compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles represent the largest number of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) on the road, for certain applications where vehicle weight, repetitive travel, and long-distance routes are critical, utilizing liquefied natural gas (LNG) may be the perfect choice for heavy-duty fleets.

With the expected increase of LNG trucks on the road, maintenance technicians who will service and repair these vehicles must be adequately trained on the properties and characteristics of the fuel itself as well as on the best safety practices for LNG vehicles and maintenance facility operations.

LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to the point that it condenses into a liquid. This condensation occurs at a temperature of approximately -260F at atmospheric pressure, which reduces natural gas volume to 1/600 of its gaseous form. The high energy density of LNG allows more fuel to be stored onboard the vehicle and therefore increases the vehicle’s driving range, making it an ideal choice for long-haul trucks.

When we refer to an LNG vehicle, we are describing only the onboard fuel storage strategy—the engine powering the vehicle actually operates on natural gas in its gaseous state. Once LNG leaves the onboard fuel storage system, it is warmed and becomes a gaseous fuel. This warming process starts in the LNG tank as the fuel absorbs the latent heat and then continues after the LNG leaves the tank and enters a component called a heat exchanger. Once the fuel reaches a temperature of -160F it is fully vaporized.

There are two primary reasons why the engine would not run on natural gas in its liquid form. First, an internal combustion engine operates on the principal of compressing a gaseous fuel. Because the liquid put into an engine cannot be compressed, the engine would not rotate. Second, natural gas is only flammable when the fuel concentration in air is roughly between 5% and 15%. Because liquefied natural gas is 100% fuel concentration, it cannot mix with air until it changes its state to a vapor form.

LNG Safety

There are four major distinctions between LNG and CNG, with respect to safety.

First, while CNG is lighter than air, LNG, depending on its temperature, can be either heavier or lighter than air. A large leak of LNG will pool on the ground and as it begins to warm, it will vaporize and dissipate upward. Because of this, maintenance facilities where LNG vehicles will be serviced need to be modified to accommodate natural gas in both states: heavier and lighter than air.

Another important safety related difference is that CNG is odorized, allowing for human leak detection. In a vehicle maintenance facility, technicians would normally be able to detect the smell of CNG long before dangerous levels of the fuel accumulate. These same technicians would not be able to detect LNG because it is an odorless fuel. Odorant cannot be added to LNG because the severely low temperature at which it is stored would cause the odorant to freeze.


Technicians would not be aware of an LNG leak unless they happened to see or hear evidence of one. Since vehicle maintenance facilities are typically busy, noisy places, and stopping service or repair activity to listen for a LNG leak is neither safe nor practical. Therefore, proper vehicle maintenance facility modifications must be made before servicing or repairing these vehicles. This would include installation of methane detection systems interlocked to exhaust fans and other building systems.

Another LNG vehicle difference is the venting of the LNG tank. As the fuel changes state from a liquid to a vapor it expands its volume by 600 times. This causes the pressure inside the tank to increase significantly as this expansion is confined inside the LNG tank. For safety reasons, the tank is equipped with a pressure relief valve that opens at 230 psi to release the excess pressure, and then closes again once the pressure drops below 230 psi.

Finally, LNG is a cryogenic (extremely cold) liquid fuel and there is a potential hazard when it comes into contact with human skin. Because of this, fueling LNG vehicles requires the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including a face shield and safety glasses for double eye protection, cryogenic rated gloves, aprons and LNG compatible clothing and footwear. Technicians who repair or work with the LNG components of the vehicle will need to either defuel the LNG components prior to performing maintenance and/or repair, or wear proper PPE.

There is no doubt that the use of LNG is growing among long-haul fleets. The low cost of the fuel multiplied by the tough-duty routes and long engine hours make this fuel a very favorable option for heavy-duty trucks. Whether running on CNG and LNG, operation of the engine is the same.

Significant differences between the two systems such as fuel storage method, extreme temperature or pressure, properties of the chosen fuel, and the addition of a heat exchanger for LNG, means that technicians need to be fully familiar with the unique characteristics of both the fuel system and the fuel. When it comes to LNG, specialized training and following proper procedures will help ensure the safety of your technicians, as well as fleet and vehicle maintenance facility operations.


CNG Fuel Price Report
From Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report published by Argonne National Laboratory for DOE's Clean Cities Program

Overall Average Fuel Prices (as of January 2014)

 

Nationwide Average Price for Fuel This Report

Nationwide Average Price for Fuel Last Report

Change in Price This Report vs. Last Report

Units of Measurement

Gasoline (Regular)

$3.34

$3.45

$0.11

per gallon

Diesel

$3.89

$3.99

$0.02

per gallon

CNG

$2.09

$2.09

$0.00

per GGE


NGVs and CNG in the News

Texas Dealer Sells Natural Gas, Too--AutoNews.com

U.S. Oil Expands Network of Compressed Natural Gas Stations--JournalSentinelOnline.com

Strong Consumer Demand for Environment Friendly Vehicles
Drives the Natural Gas Vehicles Market
--PRweb.com


Kwik Trip a Big Believer in CNG
--Chippewa.com

 

To read more, click here.


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June 9-11, 2014
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NGV Technician and Fleet Operations Safety Training

May 20, 2014 | Kenosha, WI
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May 21-22, 2014 | Kenosha, WI
June 4-5, 2014 |

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Two-day session that provides you with the proper techniques for inspecting CNG fuel systems, including on-board compressed natural gas fuel storage cylinders.


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Natural Gas Vehicle Institute is North America’s leading provider of training and consulting on natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Our services address the full range of natural gas vehicle and fueling issues, including:

Technical consulting services – Sizing and designing compressed natural gas fueling stations, vehicle assessments and technical assistance for fleets, CNG fueling station troubleshooting, natural gas vehicle maintenance facilities upgrades, liquefied natural gas fleet and fueling management.

Technical training – NGV Essentials and Safety Practices, CNG Fuel System Inspector Training, Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training, Light-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training, CNG Fuel System Design and Installation Training, Essentials of CNG Station Operation and Maintenance Training, Essentials of CNG Station Planning, Design and Construction Training and CNG/LNG Codes and Standards Training for Fire Marshals and Code Officials.

 

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