NGV Texas expects to convert 400 trucks, buses to run on CNG in 2015

Fury Zaidi beams with pride at the rows of big rigs, school buses and disassembled motors that fill up his sprawling warehouse.

All will be converted to either compressed natural gas vehicles or duel fuel, where they run on both CNG and diesel.

The president of Natural Gas Vehicles Texas Inc. said an estimated 400 heavy-duty vehicles will pass through the shop in 2015. A bold claim for sure but he says the demand is coming from school districts and trucking fleets across the country.

Natural gas burns cleaner, gets produced domestically, in the case of North Texas it comes from the Barnett Shale, and it's cheaper than diesel. Natural gas as a vehicle fuel is growing faster than anticipated, according to the fuel taxes the state collects.

The Dallas-based company has grown from a small 3,000-square-foot garage toa 30,000-square-foot facility and in June moved into a large 65,000-square-foot facility near Dallas Love Field.

The shop builds the CNG fuel tanks and even retools diesel engines to run on natural gas.

"We build natural gas engines here now," he said.

That involves modifying the pistons to reduce the compression ratio, adding spark plugs and rebuilding the valves on the engine heads.

Zaidi also provides maintenance on the light duty side to CNG taxis and AT&T vans and trucks.

The shop has a few demonstration vehicles that it will loan out so curious customers can take them for a test drive.

"If it make sense for them then we help them write grants and do the conversion," he said.

North Texas school districts can apply for grants to purchase CNG buses, too. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is offering $1 million in grant funding that's available to schools in Dallas-Fort Worth and surrounding counties.

NGV has two Saddle Creek Logistics big rigs that are being retrofitted this week. One will be a dedicated CNG truck while the other will be duel fuel. Saddlecreek is based in Florida but recently opened a logistics center in Fort Worth.

"If they are happy with product, and there's no reason why they won't be, they will do at least 50 of each," Zaidi said.

Saddlecreek, which hauls wine and liquor, will also buy new CNG trucks and install its own fueling station at its Fort Worth location.

Having your own CNG fueling station lowers the price per gallon equivalent to about $1 to $1.50.

If a truck does run out of CNG on the road, NGV will have a mobile fueling truck that can carry 100-gallon equivalent of natural gas.

"This will make service calls for CNG trucks," Zaidi said. "We have plenty of fueling stations but they still run out of fuel. This is a mobile service unit for CNG."

This article was first published by Dallas Business Journal.

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