The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on Wednesday (March 6) announced it selected nine projects to advance technologies for medium- and heavy-duty natural gas vehicles. The projects will receive $18 million for research to diversify transportation energy use, and the money will come from the Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission and the Southcoast Air Quality Management District.
The projects will focus on reducing the total cost of ownership of natural gas vehicles, increase vehicle efficiency, decrease air pollution and advance technology to increase the use of more affordable medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engines and vehicles.
“Leveraging the technical expertise of industry partners can have a powerful impact on transportation technologies,” said Johney Green, associate lab director for Mechanical and Thermal Engineering Sciences at NREL. “Innovation that can change the paradigm for energy use in transportation is going to come by bringing together researchers from several areas. We are looking forward to partnering with these researchers to develop breakthrough (natural gas vehicle) technology.”
The nine selected projects will complement the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office research started in fiscal year 2017. Following are the selected projects:
Cummins Inc. of Columbus, Ind., will develop a natural gas specific combustion design using optimized in-cylinder charge motion and cooled exhaust gas recirculation. Goals include an up to 20% system cost reduction, 10% improvement in cycle average and peak brake thermal efficiency, and have torque similar to diesel engines.
Gas Technology Institute of Des Plaines, Ill., will develop a smart fueling system, including a smart vehicle and dispenser, a full fill algorithm and cost-effective gas pre-cooling. In a separate project, the institute will develop spark ignited natural gas engine with nearly zero emissions that will meet 2027 greenhouse gas targets for class 6 vocational vehicles.
Michigan Technological University of Houghton, Mich., will study the compression ignition of directly injected natural gas, enabling the development of mono-fuel natural gas internal combustion engine technology.
Southwest Research Institute, of San Antonio, Texas, will develop a hybrid medium-duty truck using an advanced natural gas spark-ignited engine. A hybrid drivetrain system will be integrated into the truck.
Transient Plasma Systems Inc., of Torrance, Calif., along with Argonne National Laboratory, will develop a transient plasma ignition system to enable stable ignition of natural gas and air mixtures.
US Hybrid Corp., of Torrance Calif., will develop a fully integrated and optimized natural gas, plug-in hybrid class 8 vehicle using the Cummins 9-liter near-zero emission engine. Class 8 is the largest truck class. The project also includes a two-year study in port drayage operations.
The University of Alabama will develop a natural gas dual fuel heavy-duty engine that will conform to existing and future emissions standards.
The University at Buffalo will develop an after-treatment system for future natural gas vehicles using palladium-based catalysts.