NGVConnection Newsletter - August 2014


 


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CNG Fueling Station Maintenance:  Draining Storage Vessels is Critical Yet Often Overlooked

By Leo Thomason, Executive Director, NGVi    


Perspectives With Lindsay Wallace, Product Owner, HandyTube Corporation

By Kasia McBride, Marketing Manager, NGVi

HandyTubeRecently, NGVi had the chance to sit down with Lindsay Wallace, Product Manager at HandyTube™ Corporation. An NGVi sponsor, HandyTube, a Handy & Harman Company, is a premium manufacturer of seamless, stainless steel and high-nickel coil tubing used within diverse industrial, manufacturing and research industries worldwide.

Can you provide a general background and company history about HandyTube? How did HandyTube emerge into the natural gas fueling industry?
HandyTube™ Corporation, a Handy & Harman Company, has been providing unique solutions for the flow of gas, steam and liquid in harsh environments since 1981. We are one of the only companies that produce seamless stainless steel and high nickel coil tubing in long lengths.

In 2013, HandyTube Corporation partnered with SSP, an American-made valve and fittings manufacturer, to develop a unique solution exclusively for CNG stations. At the beginning of the partnership, we realized the market was in need of tubing that could withstand high pressures and maximize flow associated with transporting compressed natural gas. 

Our flexible manufacturing process allowed us to design a tube with a custom wall thickness and restricted outer diameter tolerances. This was the first step in conceptualizing SSP’s CNG Plus™ Tubing and breaking into the industry. 


What are the main products offered by your company and what are your primary target markets?

HandyTube primarily services the offshore oil and gas and petrochemical markets with its Xtreme Length™ seamless stainless steel and high nickel alloy tubing.  We specialize in the production of long continuous coils, which are 100% seam-free. Another target market for us is health care and life sciences. We recently developed Ultra-Small Diameter Tubing, which ranges in size from 0.0625" to 0.020" outer diameter, to service these customers.

Why should customers choose HandyTube? What are your competitive advantages?

Our customers frequently tell us that our Customer Service team goes above and beyond to make customers happy.  We sell only high-quality products that provide value to our customers and we are very competitive on lead times.  In addition, we provide some of the longest seamless coils in the industry.  This solution greatly minimizes time and money our customers spend on installations.  Our customers appreciate that.  When you foster a “Do what you say you will do” attitude, your customers trust you.  That is our goal.    

Could you discuss the CNG Plus™ Tubing? Can you expand on the partnership between HandyTube and SSP in development of this product?

Our partnership with SSP has been fantastic.  They are truly experts in the field. They work very hard to provide feedback to us straight from the customer, allowing us to continually improve our products. We were originally a tubing company partnering with a fittings company to solve a problem. The partnership has evolved so much in a year, and now provides a service that will take care of station design from beginning to end. 

What is unique about your ½- and ¾-inch stainless steel tube product over that of your competition?

Our ½- and ¾-inch CNG Plus™ Tubing products were designed to meet the increasing pressure ratings of many CNG stations, while maximizing flow and minimizing potential for leaks. The wall thicknesses of these products are unique and exclusively manufactured by HandyTube™ for SSP. The restricted tolerances and higher molybdenum content is also a benefit that sets us apart from the competition.

Does using your ½- and ¾-inch stainless steel tubing products in the NGV market require any special tools?

Yes, SSP offers a complete package to its customers by providing not only the tubing and the tools needed to use it, but also other materials that may be required for station construction.  For example, SSP developed a straightener that is delivered to the job site, which allows the long coils to be cut to exact lengths, minimizing waste, saving time and decreasing cost for our customers. 

Is HandyTube proposing any larger stainless steel tube offerings in the near future to the NGV market?

HandyTube is researching the market to offer additional tubing products that will meet the growing needs of CNG station contractors. 

What are the trends in the natural gas tubing sector? Are there any new developments?

Increasingly, CNG station constructors are looking for ways to avoid welding in the field, and maximizing flow at the dispenser.  We’re seeing clients choosing to run dual ¾-inch tube lines instead of a single 1-inch welded pipe system because of the time savings.  Many of the new CNG stations are additions to existing facilities, and they cannot shut down for weeks to accommodate welding crews.

We see that HandyTube has an ongoing commitment towards efficiency and ultimately customer satisfaction. Can you tell us more about your manufacturing strategies?

Lean manufacturing is the heart of our business. Implementing these strategies allows us to improve efficiencies and maximize quality. Lean manufacturing practices provide our customers with continuous improvements and profitable growth by eliminating waste, streamlining processes, reducing inventory and decreasing lead times.

Moving on to some more specific industry issues, what are HandyTube’s expectations for natural gas fueling in North America in the next few years?

The global CNG vehicle market is expected to reach 19 million units by 2018, so we hope for a steady increase in business over the next few years.  Our expectation is to grow sales in this sector by 20% year over year. 

Where do you see the biggest challenges for natural gas to gain market share in the transportation sector and how can those challenges be met?

Everyone knows the chicken and the egg theory when it comes to CNG, but limited refueling capability is a concern for consumers.  There are over 1,400 natural gas refueling stations in the U.S. and over double that in Europe, but compared to the number of natural gas vehicles, it’s still an unbalanced ratio. 

It’s estimated that over 50 billion dollars will need to go into this industry over the next 20 years to sustain infrastructure for the market to flourish.  This will be a challenge for our market in the upcoming years, but nothing that we cannot handle. 

What changes/opportunities do you foresee associated with increasing demand for CNG fueling stations? 
Tax incentives and tax credits certainly help with getting CNG products to market.  Education is also very important to make the public, especially fleet corporations, aware of the cost savings associated with CNG fueled vehicles. 

How has the demand for natural gas vehicles and fueling shaped your company’s production? Has it changed its priorities?

We estimate a cumulative spending of $890 billion for CNG over the next 12 years. We have seen an increase in activity surround the natural gas sector.  Our priorities have not changed.  Our goal is to service our customers around the clock and provide products that allow for safer and faster installing of refueling stations.
Upgrading your Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Facility for NGVs Series (Part 1 of 5): The Building Envelope

By Marc Burrell, Project Engineer, NGVi

It’s no secret the benefits that natural gas vehicles (NGVs) offer, such as reduced fuel costs, quieter engine operation, no after-exhaust treatment, and reduced emissions. Less known, however, is the fact that nearly all existing vehicle maintenance and repair facilities (VMFs) that were originally designed for gasoline or diesel vehicles will require modifications to allow technicians to safely work on compressed (CNG) or liquefied (LNG)-powered vehicles.

Whether your involvement in NGV maintenance and repair is as a vehicle dealer, an independent repair facility or an NGV fleet manager, the starting place is to understand what modifications are necessary to make your facility safe to park, maintain and repair NGVs. This five-part series will introduce you in greater detail to the vehicle maintenance facility requirements for NGVs, and to the components of the facility that must be evaluated and may require modification.  

Before we begin, let’s clarify a common misconception about VMF evaluations.  We are often asked, “Can’t you just send us a checklist so we can teach our facilities managers to do this ourselves?”  Unfortunately, the answer is no, and here is why.  Each facility is unique, and effectively applying the multiple codes that must be complied with requires an individual and unique evaluation by a knowledgeable and experienced professional—one who is extremely familiar with the codes and industry best practices.  We can’t stress this enough.

During a VMF evaluation, several aspects of the facility are carefully assessed for potential hazards, which will likely not be permitted by the local fire marshal, who is typically the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) over VMF modifications. The parts of the VMF that will be discussed in this five-part series include the building envelope, heating, ventilation, lighting, and electrical systems. This month’s portion of the series will look at the building envelope.

The building envelope consists of the exterior and interior walls, roof, structural members, and parts of the building adjacent to the vehicle service area, such as offices, classrooms, restrooms/personal locker areas, or parts rooms. Paraphrasing one of the codes, areas where CNG-powered vehicles are stored, maintained and/or repaired should prevent natural gas from reaching other parts of the building. In layman’s terms, in the unlikely event of a natural gas leak, you don’t want gas to collect into a combustible mixture within any part of the building, especially outside of the vehicle service area.

Since all of the codes are performance based, there can be multiple ways to make the building envelope code compliant. Each building is different, and factors—such as the construction practices and the age of the building—demand special consideration. This makes achieving the desired result specified by the various codes for each building quite challenging. Let’s begin by looking at the walls.

One of the main concerns is the interior walls.  If an interior wall separates the vehicle service area from another room in the facility, it should be solid, with no way for gas to penetrate the wall or leak into the room around an unsealed edge, i.e., between the ceiling and the top of the wall. Some walls have features that require special attention. The simple ones are doors and windows, which frequently open to the vehicle service area. While this is an acceptable practice in VMFs where gasoline and diesel vehicles are repaired, doors and windows in NGV facilities should be closed except when they are being accessed. For example, standard practice in many facilities is to prop the restroom door open, so vehicle technicians have easier access from the vehicle service area. Doors cannot be propped open in NGV maintenance facilities.  Instead, doors should have automatic closers installed so that they remain closed when not in use.

Similarly, some facilities have sliding or other windows that open from an office or parts storage room into the vehicle service area. In NGV maintenance facilities, these windows should not be left open or used for ventilation. For the most part, windows into the vehicle service area should be inoperable. If there are operable windows, for instance between the parts room and the service area, they should have automatic closers installed so that they remain closed until required to be opened, and close when not in direct use.

These examples assume that the wall extends from the floor to the ceiling. But sometimes facilities are designed with a partial wall that does not reach the ceiling. They can be used to separate bays within the VMF, or separate the vehicle service area from other parts of the facility. Any part of the facility that allows gas to reach from the vehicle service area is subject to the same codes and standards as the rest of the VMF.

For instance, if gas is allowed to escape over a partial wall into an adjacent room, such as a tire room, the tire room must meet all of the same codes and standards as the vehicle service area.  Obviously this is not an ideal situation because you do not want to modify more space than necessary because it will significantly increase the cost.  In this case, it may be more economical to extend the partial wall to the ceiling rather than modify the tire room to the same standards as the vehicle service area.

Construction methods at the ceiling level of the facility should allow natural gas to dissipate freely across the ceiling. In the unlikely event of a natural gas leak, open purlin roof or open truss roof support structures will help facilitate the dispersal of natural gas. However, in some cases large
I-beam corner joints can create enough of an enclosed area for escaping natural gas to collect and become a hazard, especially if it is positioned directly over an area where a potential leaking vehicle could be parked. This type of ceiling construction may require installation of a ducted air supply system that will sweep the enclosed area.

Also, if the roof is pitched, escaping gas can collect at the high point of the ceiling. There must be a way for the escaping gas to disperse and be exhausted outside the facility.

These are only a few of the more common scenarios encountered when evaluating the building envelope during a VMF—there are perhaps dozens of others because again, each facility is unique.  Ultimately the goal of every VMF is to identify modifications that will ensure the safety of your employees, customers and the general public. 

Next month we will explore the heating system in a vehicle maintenance facility and how it is impacted by NGVs. 


CNG Fuel Price Report
From Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report published by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
for DOE's Clean Cities Program

Overall Average Fuel Prices (as of April 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)

$3.65

$3.34

$0.31

per gallon

Diesel

$3.97

$3.89

$0.08

per gallon

CNG

$2.15

$2.09

$0.06

per GGE


NGVs and CNG in the News

Landfill Donates CNG Vehicle--DailyWorld.com


Omnitek Engineering Receives Order for Mack E7 Diesel-to-Natural Gas Engine Conversion Kits From Recycling Company
--Money.CNN.com


KCATA Rolls in New Era of Transit with Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Station
--KansasCity.com


Federal-Mogul Introduces Spark Plugs for Heavy-Duty NGVs
--NGTNews.com

 

To read more, click here.


Upcoming Training from NGVi

NGV Technician and Fleet Operations Safety Training

September 23, 2014 | Canonsburg, PA
September 30, 2014 | Denver, CO


One-day session that teaches you the elements involved in the safe maintenance practices, fueling procedures, and operation of NGVs.

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CNG Fuel System Inspector Training

October 1-2, 2014
|
Denver, CO

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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CNG Fueling Station Design Training 

September 23-24, 2014
|
Chicago, IL
October 6-7, 2014
|
Las Vegas, NV

Two-day course that offers the detailed technical information needed to successfully size, design and specify a CNG fueling station.


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CNG Fueling Station Operation and Maintenance Training

September 25-26, 2014
|
Chicago, IL


Two-day session that provides you with the proper techniques for operating and maintaining CNG fueling stations to help avoid oil carryover and water in the natural gas stream.


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Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance
and Diagnostics Training

October 14-16, 2014
|
Nashville, TN


This intensive three-day training course prepares technicians to understand the operation, maintenance, diagnosis and repair of heavy-duty natural gas vehicles and covers all natural gas heavy-duty manufacturers’ systems, including CNG and LNG, with major emphasis on Cummins ISL G-equipped vehicles.


REGISTER>>>

 



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About NGVi

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 Fueling Station Operation and Maintenance Training, CNG Fueling Station Design Training and CNG/LNG Codes and Standards Training for Fire Marshals and Code Officials.

 

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