Cummins Westport near-zero NOx rating viewed as game-changer

Cummins Westport near-zero NOx rating viewed as game-changer

Yet adding near-zero NOx technology across the Cummins Westport natural gas truck engine family will be heavily dependent on funding from a coalition of stakeholders, the company stressed.

ST. LOUIS. The certification of Cummins Westport ISL G 8.9-liter to 0.02 grams per brake horsepower-hour (g/bhp-hr) for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) earlier this week is expected to be a “game changer” for natural gas in the truck market – especially as that same “near-zero NOx” technology gets added to the company’s ISB 6.7-liter and ISX 12G 11.9-liter units.

“This is huge; this is equivalent to [the emission levels] of a completely electric tractor-trailer – even if one existed that could haul 80,000 lbs. up and down the highway,” explained Erik Neandross (at right), CEO for consulting firm Gladstein, Neandross and Associates (GNA), during the CNG Industry Leaders Forum put together by Gain Clean Fuel and hosted by Anheuser Busch at its Biergarten facility attached to its St. Louis, MO, brewery operation this week.

“This is really unbelievable stuff from an environmental performance perspective,” he said.

Neandross stressed as well that the number one source of ozone-forming NOx comes from heavy trucks and off-road engines; a statistics that becomes all the more important in light of the EPA’s new rulemaking effort aimed at reducing ground-ozone levels.

Hugh Donnell, North American OEM truck business and market segment leader for Cummins Westport, noted at the meeting that municipal fleets located in “non-attainment” areas for high-ozone levels could use the firm’s new “near-zero NOx” engines for faster compliance with the new rules – including the Phase II greenhouse gas (GHG) rules set for implementation in 2017.

“This is a big deal – we’re talking about natural gas engines that offer a 90% reduction in NOx pollution. That’s a game changer,” he explained.

He added that all of Cummins Westport’s natural gas engines meet the EPA‘s 2010 standard for particulate matter, which is 0.01 g/bhp-hr.

Donnell (at right) also noted that the company’s “near zero” natural gas 8.9-liter engine – designated the ISL G NZ – also meets CARB’s 2023 California Near Zero NOx schedule eight years early.

He also said that three components proved key to driving the ISL G NZ’s NOX levels down to near-zero levels: new combustion calibrations; new crankcase venting techniques adapted from Euro VI compliance technologies being used in Europe; and the three way catalyst system used on Cummins Westport’s ISX 12G unit.

“It only change [customers will see in the ISL G NZ compared to the ISL G] is an increase in the size of the catalysts of about an inch,” Donnell noted. “That’s it; there is no trade off in fuel economy and no cost to performance. That’s a pretty good recipe; don’t give up anything and get a lot more in return.”

He added that the same “near-zero” technology will be added to the company’s ISB 6.7-liter and ISX 12 G products over the next two years.

“The near-zero 6.7-liter will go into production in the fourth quarter of 2016 and will be commercially available in the first quarter of 2017,” he said. “We’ll start on the [near-zero] ISX 12 G in mid-2017 and make it commercially available in early 2018.”

Donnell cautioned, however, that adding near-zero NOx technology to the Cummins Westport 6.7 and 11.9 engines is heavily dependent on funding from a coalition of stakeholders; a coalition that includes California AQMD and other public and private entities. “Their financial contributions will allow us to develop and commercialize near-zero NOx systems to those engines,” he stressed.

The other main hurdle for Cummins Westport to getting this “near-zero” package to market across its natural gas engine lineup is compliance with onboard diagnostic (OBD) rules, he emphasized.

“Getting them OBD certified requires quite a bit of work; that and getting technicians certified to work on them and making sure parts are available when the engines hit the market,” Donnell explained. “It’s like building a new road versus rebuilding an older one; a takes a little longer than expected.”

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