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August 21
2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Bi-Fuel CNG Pickup

I had an opportunity to test drive the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Crew Cab with the bi-fuel CNG option for a week and was very impressed. In fact, I primarily drove the pickup using CNG and was struck as to how indistinguishable it was from being powered by gasoline.

I’ve driven a number of CNG vehicles over the years and I must say this was one of the most seamless bi-fuel transitions I have experienced, segueing from CNG to gasoline and back all with a simple flip of the switch — while you are driving. This produces a very pleasant user experience and also a strong appreciation of the engineering that allows this to occur.

Also, the effortless transition from one fuel to the other will help facilitate use by fleet drivers who, in the past, were reluctant to use the bi-fuel option and switch to the alternative fuel. Not all bi-fuel systems allow drivers to manually switch fuels.

The beauty of these models is that they provide reduced CO2 emissions (compared to the gasoline engine), while continuing to deliver full-size truck utility.

The CNG option is available on all 2015 Silverado 2500HD configurations and Silverado 3500HD models with single rear wheels, along with the 2500HD double cab and crew cab models, and with 2500HD regular cab and all 3500HD models. The bi-fuel CNG option is available on standard- or long-box models in both 2WD and 4WD.

The bi-fuel CNG Silverado/Sierra 2500/3500HD uses the 6.0L Vortec V-8 with factory-installed hardened exhaust valves and intake/exhaust valve seats engineered for gaseous fuel use. As mentioned earlier, the Vortec 6.0L V-8 engine can seamlessly transition between CNG and gasoline.

However, there is a slight difference in power between CNG and gasoline. The gasoline engine produces 360 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. While running on CNG, the engine produces 301 hp and 333 lb.-ft. of torque.

Besides allowing the driver to seamlessly switch fuels with the flip of a switch, the fuel system automatically switches to gasoline when the CNG tank is empty. This greatly expands the pickups driving range, which compensates for the lower power in the CNG mode. The combined 17 gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) CNG tank and 36-gallon gasoline tank provide a range of more than 650 miles, it is very impressive.

The CNG tank is located in the pickup bed providing easy access when refueling. On the interior, the gasoline fuel gauge also doubles as the CNG fuel gauge, a very nice touch.

From a fleet maintenance perspective, the CNG fuel delivery and storage system is covered under GM’s limited warranty and is serviceable by Chevrolet and GMC dealers. Plus, all major components have GM service part numbers for broad availability.

In the CNG system, all high-pressure fuel lines are located between the frame rails, which increase vehicle safety in the event of a collision. There is a full 10-year corrosion validation, which is similarly value in Snow Belt regions. Lastly, the bi-fuel CNG Silverado/Sierra has a comprehensive five-year/100,000-mile transferable powertrain limited warranty, which is not the case for all manufacturers. All in all, I walked away really liking my experience with the truck and feeling like it will help expand CNG usage among fleet users.


August 18
Forecast Natural Gas Fundamental Analysis

Natural gas eased a bit ahead of today’s inventory report to trade at 3.96 as temperatures remained warm but traders booked profits after the price was unable to break the $4 range. Several weather forecasts grew notably higher, causing the early buying, analysts said. Heat causes people to turn on air conditioning and use more gas-fired electricity, and the pattern developing for the weekend includes some of the strongest heat in what has been a mild season. Above-normal temperatures should cover nearly all of the country..

The rally hasn’t been stronger because traders aren’t certain any demand increase has staying power, analysts said. The peak season for summer demand is nearly past, and there are signs that unseasonably cool weather could return late next week, limiting any demand spike. There are also signs the buying is from technical traders or short sellers–traders who bet prices would fall–buying back in to close out their past bets, analysts said.

The record pace of production already dropped gas prices about 20% between mid-June and mid-July, and government forecasters said Tuesday that trend is likely to continue. Unconventional gas from the Marcellus shale and increased drilling in Texas are leading record production, likely to increase 5.3% from last year, according to the Energy Information Administration’s monthly Short-term Energy Outlook. It expects annual growth to continue at 2.1% next year.

The agency dropped its price projections accordingly. It expects 2014 prices to average $4.46/mmBtu, down 6.5% from its July forecast. It dropped its 2015 projection to $4.00/mmBtu, down 11% from what it forecast a month ago.


August 01
ABS to Class the World's First CNG Ship

​The award for the precedent-setting ship, to be built at Qingdao Wuchuan Heavy Industry's shipyard in northern China, is the latest example of ABS' leadership in the gas ship sector, where the largest share of LNG ships is presently being built to its classification standards.

"This prestigious contract is a testament to our commitment to high quality service, technical innovation and remaining a pioneer in the safe transport and handling of gas," said ABS Chairman and CEO Christopher J. Wiernicki. "As society's demands continue to drive the search for cleaner forms of energy, new methods of marine transport, propulsion and processing for gas are being required. ABS remains committed to being on the leading edge of that technical evolution, supporting industry and regulators as they navigate through the challenges."

The CNG ship has been designed by China's CIMC Ocean Engineering Design & Research Institute.

ABS has long been a leader in the safe transport and handling of gas, having classed the world's first LNG carrier, the Methane Pioneer in 1959, and subsequently responding to the evolving technology demands of the largest and most modern units currently in service.

In China, it was the class of choice for the first ten large LNG ships (147,000 m3 and 172,000 m3) built in the country's yards. ABS has also worked on several CNG carrier concepts, supporting them through the approval in principle process or to final approval.

PT PLN's inaugural CNG ship, which will be dual-classed with the Indonesian class society Biro Klasifikasi Indonesia, will be 110 meters in length and offer sailing speeds of 14 knots. It is designed to offer a nominal CNG capacity of 2,200 m3 and will fly the Indonesian flag.

The ship is expected to transport natural gas from Indonesian fields in East Java to communities on the island of Lombok, benefiting relatively remote communities that are not economically feasible to supply by pipeline.

The contract award comes just months after ABS unveiled its new Global Gas Solutions team, a multi-disciplinary group of technical specialists formed to respond to the rapidly escalating number of gas-related projects, including LNG and LPG transportation, the use of LNG and LPG as fuel and a growing number of FLNG projects.

July 23
Natural gas chain opens fueling station

​The operator of Charleston’s compressed natural gas vehicle filling station on Tuesday celebrated the opening of its sixth station. IGS CNG Services has opened its latest CNG fueling station located near Youngstown, Ohio, along Interstate 80 in Girard. It is the sixth station the company has opened in the region in recent years. The company already operates stations in Charleston, Bridgeport and Jane Lew in West Virginia, along with two others in Dublin and Orrville in Ohio. It plans to open additional stations in Dayton and Findlay, Ohio, in the near future. IGS Energy president Scott White said the company hopes to develop a regional infrastructure that can serve businesses and individuals who choose to switch to natural gas-powered vehicles. “Our plan responds to the emerging market demand for fast, convenient refueling of CNG vehicles,” White said. “We want to create the opportunity to travel all over the region without a worry of whether you can find a location to fuel up with compressed natural gas.”

July 18
Ohio's Largest Compressed Natural Gas Station Ready For Fueling Action

​The city of Columbus, Ohio, has completed its second municipally owned compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling station, located at 2333 Morse Rd.: a facility that Columbus officials say is the largest public-access CNG station in the state.

Columbus' first CNG facility, on Morse Rd., came online in April 2012. To date, that station has pumped more than 500,000 GGE of CNG - about 40% of which has been used in non-municipal natural gas vehicles.

The new station on Morse Rd. will primarily serve the Columbus refuse fleet that is operating in the northern part of the metro, but it will also provide CNG to other city departments and the general public, according to Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

Three 250 hp compressors are on site, along with a single tower dryer with a manual on-skid regeneration package, 140,000 SCF of CNG storage, and three high-flow single-hose dispensers. All told, the station offers a fill rate of approximately 6-7 GGE per minute, allowing a CNG-powered refuse truck to refuel in five to seven minutes, on average.

The city of Columbus alone plans on having 440 natural gas vehicles in its fleet by 2020, which will represent a fuel-cost savings of approximately $1.9 million per year. A third CNG station is being targeted for the west side of Columbus, and fourth station - located downtown - is in the works.

City officials note that CNG is priced at $1.90/GGE at the Morse Rd. station.

July 10
J&J Completes First Fleet of CNG Trucks

J&J Truck Bodies & Trailers, a leading manufacturer of dump bodies, trailers, oil and gas field equipment, and custom transportation solutions, announced the completion of 11 commercial tri-axle dump bodies that will be fueled by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). 

The owner of the trucks, Michael Forte of MJF Materials located in Lindenwold, NJ, purchased the Peterbilt trucks from Hunter Peterbilt and the CNG tanks from d-HYBRID Systems. J&J technicians assisted with the installation of the d-HYBRID fuel systems prior to mounting the J&J aluminum dump bodies onto the trucks. The trucks will be used to haul sand and stone from quarries to asphalt and concrete plants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Forte has built a state-of-art CNG station on his property that will support his fleet.

CNG-powered trucks are becoming a viable solution for fleet managers who are looking for alternatives to costly diesel fuel, less reliance on foreign supplies, and a need for cleaner, renewable and safer source of fuel. Natural gas is readily available and plentiful in the United States, making it a cost effective option for company fleets. The boom in natural gas drilling is also providing a boost to local economies and an increase in job creation. "We expect to see more and more of the CNG configured trucks come to our facility for fuel system and dump body installations," said Mike Riggs, senior vice president of J&J Truck Bodies & Trailers. "To meet that demand, J&J has invested in employee training and capital equipment to support the increasing popularity of the natural gas option."

J&J Truck Bodies & Trailers is a division of Somerset Welding & Steel and was founded in 1958. The company also operates J&J Truck Equipment, both located in Somerset, Pa. Somerset Welding & Steel is an ISO 9001:2008 certified company, serving clients worldwide.

 

July 09
CNG Conversions of 2015 F-250, F-350 Now Covered By Both EPA and CARB

Westport says the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has certified model-year 2015 Ford F-250 and F-350 pickup trucks with the 6.2-liter Ford engine that are fitted with dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) WiNG Power Systems.

The company had already received certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the same CNG system configurations on 2015 F-250 and F-350 trucks, as well as received CARB certification for model-year 2014 Ford F-150 pickup trucks with the 3.7-liter Ford engine and WiNG Power System.

The EPA- and CARB-certified Westport WiNG system installations performed on 2015 F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks are available with a 17 GGE, 23 GGE or 27 GGE CNG tank, the company says.

The conversions are conducted through Ford's Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) program, whereby all Westport NGV conversions undergo the same safety testing required for Ford OEM products, and the original vehicle warranty remains intact following the conversion.

More information about Westport's bi-fuel and dedicated CNG vehicles is available here.

November 21
Chemical company BASF bringing its expertise to natural gas vehicles.

The world's largest chemical company has set its sights on improving natural gas vehicles.

BASF is developing materials that could increase the capacity of natural gas storage tanks by as much as 30 percent, said Raghu Gummaraju, business development manager for the company's energy storage materials division.

"We have a lot of ideas," he said.

Gummaraju was part of a panel on evolving natural gas vehicle technology Tuesday at the 2013 Energy Policy and Future of Passenger Transportation Conference sponsored by Oklahoma City University's Meinders School of Business.

He said BASF's technology has been tested only in a laboratory at this point, but the company has been working on a demonstration vehicle to help commercialize it.

The company also is looking for partners to help test the technology's performance in the field.

Gummaraju said BASF has developed a metal-organic framework that can increase the amount of gas that can be stored in a conventional storage tank. Each pellet acts as a small tank inside to regularize storage.

He said the technology also could make it possible to fill compressed natural gas tanks at a lower pressure.

October 18
A Chevy Impala That Goes 500 Miles On A Tank? With Natural Gas, It's Possible

Capitalizing on America's abundant supply of clean-burning, low-cost natural gas, General Motors GM +0.9% said Wednesday it will build a Chevrolet Impala sedan that can operate on either gasoline or compressed natural gas and travel up to 500 miles between fill-ups.

The bi-fuel Impala, which goes on sale summer as a 2015 model, could be the start of something big. Honda Motor HMC -0.1% has been selling a natural gas-powered Civic since 2011 and while still modest, sales have been steadily rising. The Japanese carmaker is on track to sell about 2,500 CNG Civics this year, up from 1,900 in 2012 and 1,200 the year before. In July, Ford Motor F +0.4% said its most popular vehicle, the F-150 pickup, will be offered with a compressed natural gas engine starting in the 2014 model year.

"Natural gas will grow increasingly attractive as an alternative fuel source, as we've seen each year with natural gas Honda Civic sales, particularly in areas like California where HOV lane access is available," said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "The lack of infrastructure remains a hurdle, but if more automakers begin to offer CNG-powered vehicles, we could see a greater push for access to CNG in the years to come."

The Impala's bi-fuel powertrain is engineered to switch seamlessly from CNG to gasoline, which should reassure consumers worried about finding a place to refuel. For business fleet customers, whose drivers return to a central location, CNG refueling shouldn't be a problem. GM did not announce the new car's price, which is likely to be higher than the standard gas model, but savings at the pump could offset that extra payout quickly.

Natural gas produces about 20 percent less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered cars, according to the California Air Resources Board. It is also significantly cheaper. CNG sells for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and as little as $1 in some parts of the country. The national average for unleaded regular gasoline is $3.36.

For those in states like California, Oklahoma and Utah who have been converting older vehicles to CNG for years, the new bi-fuel Impala offers an opportunity to upgrade to a modern vehicle with navigation, Bluetooth and advanced safety systems. Said Eric Ibara, another Kelley Blue Book analyst: "There is a lot of buzz around CNG right now. With more infrastructure, I wouldn't be surprised to see an increasing number of CNG vehicles on the road."

GM chief executive Dan Akerson announced the bi-fuel Impala during remarks at an energy summit marking the 40th anniversary of the OPEC Oil Embargo. "We know that U.S. energy security won't come from a one-off moonshot," Akerson said. "It will flow from our systematic investment in technology and innovation… our drive to get more from existing energy sources and renewables… our commitment to conservation… and it will be assured by fully and safely exploiting our shale gas reserves."

Akerson used the occasion to reiterate his call for a comprehensive national energy policy.

October 10
Company provides fuel on the go for CNG vehicles

It's getting easier to drive cross country in a vehicle fueled by compressed natural gas.

But some vehicles couldn't do it without Mark McConville.

McConville's CNG Logistics provides mobile refueling services. It is a collaboration with National Transfer, a company that pays drivers to take vehicles across the country.

McConville said there is strong demand for dedicated natural gas vehicles in California because of stringent air quality standards, but it isn't easy to get them there.

McConville's first gig, when he started his company about two years ago, was helping a CNG-fueled trash truck get to the Golden State from Alabama.

Trucks like that are well-suited for cheaper CNG, he said, because they get only about six miles a gallon.

One of the potential drawbacks of switching to an alternative fuel like CNG is finding fueling stations. McConville said "range anxiety" is magnified on cross-country trips, which is where he comes in.

McConville has a van equipped with four CNG tanks, which can hold a total of 80 gallons. He used it in 2010 when he drove his CNG-fueled 1966 Pontiac GTO along Route 66, from Santa Monica, Calif., to Chicago.

He needed to provide his own fuel along some legs of the trip because there were no public fueling stations available.

McConville said it is simple to transfer CNG from one high-pressure tank to another. Gas moves from the fuller tank to the emptier tank until the pressure equalizes.

"It's called equalizing," he said. "The very best I can do is half a tank."

McConville's service is needed because there aren't any CNG stations between Midland, Texas, and Tucson, Ariz.

"Once you leave Midland, there is a 600-mile gap," he said.

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