NGVConnection Newsletter - June 2013


 


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Changes in NFPA 52 Benefit NGV Technician Safety

By Annalloyd Thomason, Vice President/General Manager, NGVi

NGV technicians received a much-needed safety boost in the 2013 version of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 52 Vehicular Gaseous Fuel Systems Code.  Effective December 17, 2012, vehicle manufacturers and/or installers of CNG fuel systems must provide a venting system to allow the high-pressure portion of the CNG fuel system to be vented for service.   Prior to the 2013 version of NFPA 52 there was no such requirement, which means that technicians have to “break” the system for some NGVs under pressure—which can be dangerous.

The all-new subsection of NFPA 52 (2013) is found in Chapter 6: CNG Engine Fuel Systems.  It mandates that not only shall all vehicles be provided with a venting system for the high-pressure portion of the CNG fuel system, but that it shall not be required to break any connections while under pressure to vent the high-pressure portion of the system.  The code specifies that a connection for an external vent system shall be provided by the manufacturer or system installer, along with written venting instructions and a list of any special tools needed for venting. 

The benefit of this new requirement to NGV technicians is obvious—all vehicles procured after December 17, 2012 must have the ability to be vented or defueled, including the installation of the venting or defueling connection. For these vehicles, technicians do not have to break a fitting under pressure to vent or defuel any part of the high-pressure fuel system.

To help reinforce this process, fleet managers should consider adding a requirement to their vehicle specifications that any newly-acquired vehicle’s fuel system should comply with provisions in Chapter 6 of NFPA 52 Version 2013.  In addition, verifying this equipment should be part of the standard pre-delivery inspection. 

The requirement applies to any new or retrofitted vehicle provided after December 17, 2012 regardless of the model year of the vehicle. However, it should be noted that most vehicles obtained before that date likely will not have a venting system installed and technicians still must be trained on how to safely vent or defuel a vehicle.  NFPA 52 also specifies that venting or depressurization of a CNG container shall be performed only by trained personnel using written procedures. 

In the case of a vehicle without a defueling receptacle, the technician must create an alternative method for defueling the vehicle by disassembling a partially-pressurized fuel line fitting.   While the pressure can be minimized, it cannot be completely eliminated.  The significant risk associated with defueling is that the fitting may have been previously stressed and barely holding together, and when torque is applied to loosen the fitting, it is possible that it will fail, causing it to come apart under pressure, which can be dangerous.


One alternative method for defueling requires the technician to disassemble a portion of the high-pressure fuel line and install a defueling receptacle. The first step in this method is to remove as much gas as possible.  If defueling is not an emergency situation, the technician should schedule the defueling to occur after the vehicle has consumed the majority of its fuel.

If there is an emergency defueling situation, such as suspected Level 2 or observed Level 3 cylinder damage (CGA C-6.4-2007: 7.3.3), the first step is to close the cylinder valve(s) and run the vehicle engine until it dies. This can take up to six minutes or more, depending on the routing and length of the high-pressure fuel lines.

Once the engine dies, the technician should check and double-check that the fuel pressure has been depleted.  To adequately perform this step, a pressure gauge installed in the high-pressure fuel system is required. 


Then the technician can disconnect the most accessible fitting between the second check valve and the cylinder valve(s). Once disconnected, a defueling receptacle can be installed in the disconnected fuel line.

Even though NFPA 52 (2013) provides an excellent start to improving NGV technician safety, it will take years for all the vehicles procured before the regulation took effect to be replaced.  In the meantime, the best protection for technician health and safety is training. 

For more information about NGVi’s technician safety training programs, click here.

 


Perspectives with William Zobel, Trillium CNG™
By Kasia McBride, Marketing Manager, NGVi

Recently, NGVi had the opportunity to interview Trillium CNG’s William (Bill) Zobel, Vice President of Market Development & Strategy. Trillium CNG™, an NGVi sponsor, is a leading provider of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling services as well as a single-source provider of CNG fueling facility design, construction, operation and maintenance. The company specializes in fueling fleets that require high-performance solutions.

Could you please give us a background on Trillium CNG?

Trillium CNG has over 20 years of industry expertise in both CNG infrastructure development and natural gas procurement. In fact, our CNG stations operate 20% more efficiently than our competition, resulting in the lowest fueling lifecycle costs and bottom-line savings. We pride ourselves in listening to our customers to understand their refueling needs; therefore, our stations generally exceed their performance expectations.   


Can you provide a general overview of the products and services provided by Trillium?


We specialize in fueling heavy-duty fleets that require high-performance solutions. Our stations feature the most significant advances in equipment technology, including our patented fast-fill hydraulic intensifier (HY-C™) providing an ultra-fast refueling experience. Our service experience has resulted in a demonstrated track record of 99% plus equipment reliability. All of our CNG stations are supported by our highly trained 24/7 rapid response team.  

What product innovations is Trillium currently working on?


We are always looking for ways to improve our products and services.  We understand that this is the time, in the early stages of market development, where product and service innovations differentiate competitors.  We are excited to be a part of the industry and contribute our technical expertise to its success.  Regarding innovations from Trillium, today we offer our patented HY-C (hydraulic intensifier) technology that delivers ultra-fast CNG refueling to our customers.  We are currently evaluating innovations for this product which are aimed at increasing the deliverability of the unit from 12 gasoline gallon equivalents per minute to something much higher than that.  Other innovations around station design, operating and control systems, and remote monitoring are aimed at improving the functionality, service, reliability and efficiency of our CNG systems.  Tie all these together and we expect to see our customer offering get even better. 
            

How is Trillium responding to the increasing demand for CNG fueling stations?


Since being acquired by the Integrys Energy Group (NYSE: TEG) in 2011, we have been able to add considerably to our national CNG station network, and we are excited about what the future holds.  This year we will add more than 30 stations to our existing network, and we have plans to add far more than that next year.  We have noted a considerable increase in demand from customers, which is keeping our pipeline full of great opportunities.  To keep pace with demand, we have added capability across the board.  We are proud to say that through our efforts and those of our joint venture partners, we are meeting market needs and positioning ourselves to be the CNG provider of choice well into the future.    


Does Trillium participate in building traditional gasoline/CNG retail stations?


Trillium builds public access CNG refueling stations with our host partners at traditional refueling locations, such as truck stops and gas stations, which add to the operator’s suite of fuels.  We also build proprietary stations for those seeking that option as well.  Our public access stations are all designed with our patented HY-C technology which ensures an ultra-fast fill, and an exceptional customer refueling experience.  Our pumps accept a variety of refueling network cards to suit every fleet need, including a Trillium CNG fleet card.  All of our sites incorporate redundancy and are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by our rapid response teams across the U.S. to ensure maximum uptime.     


What is your vision of future use of natural gas vehicles in the United States?


At Trillium CNG, we believe the U.S. is poised to end its reliance on foreign oil, and shift a large portion of the transportation sector over to domestically-produced natural gas.  We are seeing more and more demand for natural gas vehicles of all sizes, and a strong push for cost-effective CNG refueling infrastructure.  Forecasts vary widely in terms of market penetration, but generally, predictions show considerable growth in the sector in the near term.  We believe natural gas in transportation is here to stay, and will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years.  We are very excited to be part of the natural gas evolution.       
  

Could you tell us about your personal career path in the CNG industry?


I’ve been in the energy industry for almost 30 years and have had wide range of assignments spanning engineering, plant operations, environmental, public, and political affairs, sales and marketing.  It’s been both fun and challenging.  My career started as an engineer at ARCO where I was part of the team that developed the nation’s first reformulated gasoline. ARCO was acquired by BP in 1999, where I spent the next several years assisting in the integration of the two companies and supporting our political and public relations efforts across the U.S.  I entered the alternative fuels space when I led the Clean Transportation Program for the Sempra Utilities. This was a great opportunity and provided me an understanding of NGVs, EVs, Hybrids and Hydrogen vehicles, and, eventually set me on the path I enjoy so much today.  I joined Trillium in 2009 and have been in the NGV space ever since.  The acquisition of Trillium by Integrys in 2011 was timely, and positioned the company for success in a rapidly growing NGV market.  The company has a solid business plan and is well positioned to grow.  I have been very fortunate thus far, and look forward to a long and exciting future in this progressive industry.
   

Can you talk about some of the changes you’ve seen in the CNG industry within the last decade?


There have been so many, but I would say the changes that have taken place in the last five to six years have really paved the way for rapid growth in CNG.  Technological advances in gas exploration, vehicles, engines, and on-board fuel storage over this period have shifted the industry into high gear.  Those of us that have been around long enough remember when the price differential between natural gas (for transportation) and petroleum fuels was questionable.  In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that the markets were looking to import large volumes of natural gas from overseas.  Needless to say the shale revolution changed all that, and now we have an abundance of gas, and the technology to deploy it in the transportation sector.  Today, natural gas enjoys a solid discount to petroleum fuel, and by all indications, we can expect this to continue well into the future.  I would also say that vehicle, engine, and on-board gas storage technology have made quantum leaps in the past few years.  New natural gas engine products have led to the development of several new CNG offerings across the vehicle spectrum.  On-board gas storage has also evolved with a new generation of larger, lighter and less expensive gas storage tanks that can extend the range of heavy duty CNG vehicles well beyond 500 miles.  These new tank designs greatly extend the range of a CNG truck and forever eliminate this as a concern.            
 

Is Trillium primarily a third-party provider, a design/build contractor, or a combination of both?


Trillium CNG is a full service, turnkey provider of CNG equipment and services.  We integrate the complete CNG system for our customers that meets their needs today and into the future.  We offer a variety of different business models that range from Trillium deploying 100% of the capital for a CNG station, to partnership opportunities that share upfront capital, to selling (and installing) equipment solutions owned by the customer.  We even offer temporary refueling systems in some parts of the country as a lead item to support new customer deployments.  We offer a host of operating and maintenance plans to accommodate any number of customer needs.  In short, we offer our customers a portfolio of CNG solutions under a variety of flexible business models to meet almost every need.      
       

What challenges do you see coming in response to the increasing demand for CNG fueling stations?


I see the market rising to meet the CNG infrastructure challenge.  There are a host of CNG infrastructure providers today willing to support the needs of carriers, shippers, refuse haulers, and government fleets.  The biggest challenge in my view is getting good quality information into the hands of decision makers so they can clearly understand the value proposition of CNG. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation being circulated about CNG that needs to be cleared up.  Let me give you an example. We keep reading and hearing claims that CNG is best suited for smaller vehicles, and applications with less than 250 miles of range.  This is simply not true.  Advances in tank design have made several extended range CNG tank packages available.  These tank packages can range from 42 to 155 diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) on board.  At a very conservative 5.5 MPG, the larger tank package can easily support a 700-mile run. Information like this can hurt the growth of CNG, and we need to make sure decision makers are getting the best available information from knowledgeable sources. This is one of our biggest challenges at the moment.    

How will we make fueling station systems smaller in order to fit CNG in existing gasoline/diesel stations that may not have the room for all the necessary equipment?


I believe we will continue to see innovations in the design of CNG stations as the market develops.  These can be directed at reducing footprint, increasing deliverability, control logic, or even cooling technology.  The common thread will be improvements directed at meeting consumer’s needs.  Specific to your question regarding footprint, if you draw a comparison between the overseas CNG markets and the US, you see smaller, more compact systems deployed overseas.  These have evolved to meet the refueling requirements of smaller vehicles (equipped with smaller tanks) and the refueling needs of dense urban areas.  At present, in contrast to Europe, the US is seeing the heavy-duty (HD) truck market primarily driving the demand for CNG infrastructure.  These HD fleets require high-performance systems like our HY-C which delivers a fueling experience comparable to diesel vehicles – large fuel tanks filled very quickly.  Fortunately, our systems with the HY-C use less space than a comparable system delivering the same fill rate.  So by design, our systems are spatially efficient and have a very high rate of deliverability.  This positions Trillium well in space constrained environments the best of both worlds if you will.

 

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Lower Merion School District: A Success Story for Others to Follow
An Interview with Jerry Rineer

By Kasia McBride, Marketing Manager, NGVi

School bus fleet operators have long been interested in the option of converting their buses to a more economic, environmentally-friendly and safe fuel. For many of them, natural gas, which is approximately 50% cheaper than diesel, provides a cost-effective fuel alternative. These significant cost savings are multiplied by long engine hours and numerous stops along local routes.

Since safety is the top priority for school bus fleets, which are responsible for thousands of lives every day, the unique characteristics of natural gas, the rigorous safety standards, and well-established safety record make CNG buses an even more attractive option for them.

Additionally, converting to natural gas can help create a healthier, more sustainable environment, reducing students’ exposure to harmful diesel-exhaust emissions. According to Coalition for Clean Air (CCA),
the average diesel school bus is 223.5 times more toxic than a new CNG school bus.

Many school districts across the country have recognized those benefits, made their move, and successfully converted their bus fleets to CNG. According to NGV America, more than 160 school districts have chosen natural gas buses to replace their older diesel buses.

One example of a success story is Lower Merion School District (LMSD), the largest alternative-fuel school bus fleet on the East Coast. The District, one of the first in the country to begin using CNG, has been honored multiple times for its commitment to utilizing clean fuels in transportation. In 2012, LMSD was named one of the top green fleets in the United States by "The 100 Best Fleets in North America," an organization that honors outstanding fleets in the country.

The District operates 58 buses and six support vehicles that run on CNG. Recently, NGVi had the chance to sit down with Jerry Rineer, the District’s Transportation Supervisor, to share his views below.

Why did LMSD decide to convert to natural gas? What were the motivating factors?

The community was very supportive of the idea of finding a way to reduce the pollution and noise being created by the large fleet of diesel buses which were staged at the Lower Merion High School in Ardmore.  Noise was a major concern at that time, and the CNG buses were considerably quieter.

How important was safety in your decision to convert to CNG?

The district was very aware of the safety on the CNG fueling stations as well as the safety record of the CNG vehicles used around the world.

What major challenges have you faced in the process? How did you overcome them? 

Well, of course the CNG buses tend to be more expensive than the diesels, so we approached the idea of meeting that extra cost by seeking grant funding assistance.  The state of Pennsylvania’s Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been a big help to us, and we have to extend our thanks for the technical and financial support we’ve received over the years.  In regards to our fueling station, like any cutting edge technology, it changes.  After a number of years, we found our equipment, like some of the software and control panel, had become outdated.  When the high school renovation was in the planning stages, it was eventually determined that we would construct two new stations--one at Lower Merion High School and the other at Harriton High School.  Also, our mechanics had to become accustomed to CNG, and be trained on it through the early years of the program.  Now, we think we may have the most experienced CNG school bus mechanics around.

What advice would you give other school bus fleet operators who are considering CNG or who have recently converted?

You have to go into it carefully and in stages.   Do your homework and find out for yourself by talking to other fleet managers who have done these types of projects.  Conduct a fleet analysis to see how to improve your fleet performance, and which fuel or energy efficiency improvements work best with your resources. We have a consultant who is an expert and has helped us tremendously, and keeps us up to date on changes in the field and funding opportunities.

If you decide to go with CNG, it is very important to inform your staff of the direction the organization is taking, and why.  Tell your drivers, mechanics, and support staff why it is being done, the motivation and goals you are trying to attain, and what the clean air and energy security benefits are.  Once people understand how much using a clean, American-made fuel can help improve air quality and save taxpayer dollars on fuel, they jump right on board.



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 April 2013)

 

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)

$3.59

$3.29

$0.30

per gallon

Diesel

$3.99

$3.96

$0.03

per gallon

CNG

$2.10

$2.10

$0.00

per GGE


NGVs and CNG in the News

Frito-Lay Will Build 7 Public CNG Fueling Stations This Year--Dallas Business Journal

 

Ryder Takes Delivery of First Light and Medium Duty Natural Gas Vehicles--Daily Finance

  

AMP Americas Puts 12L Kenworth CNG Tractor On Road--Fleet Owner
 

Navigant Forecasts 35m Natural Gas Vehicles by 2020--Environmental Leader

 

Penske Truck Leasing Orders 100 Compressed Natural Gas Tractors--PR News Wire


Agility Launches Long-Range CNG Tractor Product--Fleet Owner

To read more, click here.


Upcoming Training from NGVi

NGV Technician and Fleet Operations Safety Training 

August 27, 2013 | San Leandro, CA
September 10, 2013 | Dallas, TX

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

REGISTER>>>

CNG Fuel System Inspector Training

August 28-29, 2013 |
San Leandro, CA
September 11-12, 2013 | Dallas, TX


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


REGISTER>>>

 



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