NGVConnection Newsletter - January 2012

Facilities Modification Becoming High Priority for Heavy-Duty NGV Dealers and Distributors
By Annalloyd Thomason, Vice President/General Manager, NGVi

As heavy-duty dealers and distributors ramp up to begin more widespread sales and service of natural gas vehicles, one of their first priorities has become ensuring their maintenance facilities are modified to meet the code and safety requirements for maintaining and repairing NGVs.  This is especially important because even if a dealer or distributor is performing routine maintenance like an oil change or tire rotation on a CNG or LNG powered vehicle, the maintenance facility must be able to safely accommodate the lighter-than-air fuel.

Two of NGVi’s newest consulting clients, vehicle manufacturer Navistar and regional distributor network Cummins Rocky Mountain, have begun the process of evaluating maintenance and repair facilities to determine what modifications must be made—and what administrative procedures can be put into place to minimize the cost of those modifications.  The magnitude of these projects alone is significant, since Navistar has a network of 200 plus dealers at 600 locations in North America.   Cummins Rocky Mountain operates 14 dealerships in nine states.

The situation is this.  Existing dealer/distributor vehicle maintenance facilities have been designed to meet safety code requirements for gasoline and diesel, and both the liquid and the vapors for these fuels are heavier than air.  Thus, the code requirements address the needs of heavier-than-air fuels.  Just one example of the effects of these codes is reflected in the defined hazardous areas.  In gasoline/diesel vehicle maintenance facilities, the defined hazardous area is from the floor 18 inches up.  There cannot be any ignition sources in this space.  The ventilation flow in these facilities is introduced at the ceiling level and exhausted at or near floor level. 

Conversely, since natural gas is lighter than air, the defined hazardous area in NGV maintenance facilities is from the ceiling 18 inches down.  There can be no ignition sources within this defined space—which is the opposite of the design for most existing gasoline/diesel vehicle maintenance facilities.  In addition, the ventilation flow in natural gas vehicle facilities should be introduced at the floor and exhausted at or near the ceiling.

And these are just two of the many differences in code requirements for facilities designed for liquid fuels vs. facilities designed to accommodate lighter-than-air fuels.  Maintaining liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered vehicles brings an additional set of requirements, since onboard LNG fuel storage tanks are designed to vent to the atmosphere as the pressure inside those tanks exceeds a preset number—which occurs naturally the longer fuel remains in the tanks and temperature increases.

What dealers and distributors must understand is that even if a natural gas powered vehicle requires routine maintenance such as that for transmissions or tires, the maintenance facility must be able to safely accommodate the lighter-than-air fuel.  There are administrative procedures that can be implemented in the short run.  For example, you can park a CNG powered vehicle inside the maintenance facility for non-CNG fuel system maintenance under certain circumstances and conditions.  The CNG fuel system is defined as any components from the fuel receptacle up to and including the fuel injectors.   These conditions include procedures like leak checking the vehicle before it is brought into the facility, turning off the fuel supply, ensuring adequate ventilation is present and ensuring that there are vehicle technicians inside the facility as long as the vehicle is parked inside the facility.  Without further modification of the facility, CNG powered vehicles cannot be parked inside the maintenance facility overnight and/or when no technicians are present.  More importantly, the CNG fuel system cannot be maintained or repaired inside any maintenance facility that has not been modified to accommodate lighter-than-air fuel.

Under no circumstances can an LNG vehicle be parked inside a maintenance facility unless the facility has been modified to accommodate both CNG and LNG.  This is because LNG is heavier than air in its liquid state but lighter than air in its gaseous state.

To ensure safety and code compliance, a comprehensive vehicle maintenance facility evaluation must be performed by an expert in appropriate CNG and LNG code requirements and interpretations.  These evaluations include the entire ventilation system, heating system, lighting system, electrical system, mechanical system, building envelope and below grade maintenance pits and/or floor drains. 

For more information about vehicle maintenance facility evaluations, visit our website at www.ngvi.com or contact us at 800-510-6484.

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What to Look For In an Effective Natural Gas Transportation Fuel Contract?

By Leo Thomason, Executive Director, NGVi

Choosing a third-party operator to provide natural gas fueling can be an excellent option for fleets who don’t want the responsibility of owning or maintaining fueling equipment.  However, fleets who choose this option need to understand how natural gas fueling works and must articulate your needs clearly to avoid the need for costly remediation.  This, of course, requires an impartial expert who understands the subtleties of what is involved in the contractual relationship between a fuel provider and a fleet operator.  Omissions or vague and uncertain provisions are usually settled in favor of the party drafting an agreement.  Usually that party is the one that controls the money.  Natural Gas Vehicle Institute (NGVi) highlights these contract suggestions, learned from our experience in working directly with fleets, which will save you money and headaches down the road. 

Background

Traditionally, businesses and other entities that operate fleets of vehicles and equipment have met their fueling requirements by either owning and operating their own fueling stations, or fueling vehicles at retail stations or other third party facilities.  Once you’ve researched available fuel provider options and services, the most critical step is to pinpoint the key elements to be included in a contract that will protect your interests for the term of the agreement.  For instance, what do you do if you’ve been given contaminated fuel?  What if the maintenance or fueling technician isn’t qualified?  How do you identify hidden costs that won’t show up until your first billing cycle?  These are among the problems that can be prevented by careful review and negotiation of your contract.

 

Solution

There are many variables that can determine what should be included in a natural gas fueling contract.  Below is a small sampling of commonly overlooked items to consider before entering into a fuel supply agreement.

  • Fuel providers must guarantee a fuel quality standard that meets specifications.   There should be no oil or other contaminants in the delivered fuel and vehicles must perform well in your geographic/weather area.
  • Fuel must be readily available when required.  If there is a station breakdown, the provider must guarantee a backup fuel supply.   
  • To maximize vehicle range, the fuel provider must deliver temperature compensated fueling.
  • The fuel price must be able to both increase and decrease to accommodate fuel price fluctuations.  The contract benchmark should not be based on the commodity price of the gas supply but rather on some variation of the Consumer Price Index. 
  • The contract price of natural gas per gasoline or diesel gallon equivalent (GGE or DGE) should include the cost of gas, compression, maintenance and the cost of capital. These amounts should be spelled out specifically so that you know exactly what percentage of each GGE is allocated to each cost item.
  • The contract should stipulate a penalty, per vehicle and per occurrence, for inability to fuel vehicles if the station is down and fuel is not available. 
  • Both public and private fleets are eligible to receive a portion of a federal excise tax incentive that the fuel provider receives.  This has been available since October 1, 2006, and should be included in the contract. 
  • Before signing a contract, make sure you have received competitive bids and understand the service and cost differences between competing fuel providers.

Conclusion

Selecting a fuel provider is much like hiring an employee.  Making sure you are contracting with a company that has a well-maintained station, an understanding of safety practices, qualified and properly trained technicians, and a verifiable track record fueling NGVs is your responsibility.  Experience with the maintenance and operation of a retail gasoline station does not qualify someone for the same position working with natural gas, unless they’ve undergone thorough technical training because the systems are completely different. 

Asking a prospective fuel provider for references is your right.  Call the customers they list but do your homework and cold call others they didn’t list.  Doing so will help you with contract strategies should you decide to hire them.  Finally, in addition to getting a legal review, bring in a CNG expert to make sure you’re covered on the special requirements unique to natural gas.


Westport LD to Offer Select CNG Ford Trucks
By Lawrence McBride, NGVi Staff

I recently chatted with Craig Duffy, Fleet Sales Marketing Manager of Westport LD about some good news on the road for Ford pick-up trucks and CNG.    

I understand that Westport LD is working with a certain house-hold name to convert select pick-up trucks to be available to an even wider audience?

Craig: Westport LD is working directly with Ford Motor Company to begin offering compressed natural gas (CNG) bi-fuel power systems.

 

Can you share what models you’re beginning with?

Ford Super Duty F250/ F350 pick up models. Like Ford, Westport LD will be doing thorough testing (crash, drive-ability, high altitude, steep grade, towing, shaker, hot, cold, EPA and CARB certified emissions) to assure that the durability and reliability of this system matches the Ford product itself. The system (we call it WiNG) will carry the exact warranty as the Ford pickup that it powers and will be installed on vehicles in Louisville, Kentucky, adjacent to the Ford assembly plant. Vehicles will arrive at authorized Ford Dealers on regular Ford transport trucks.

 

This is kind of exciting, and great for the industry.  Can you tell me how this new option will be executed?

It is exciting. In addition, Westport LD is offering Ford dealers an opportunity to increase their business by selling natural gas powered Ford pick up trucks. This will allow them to sell vehicles to the ever-increasing market demand for vehicles that operate on an alternative fuel.  And compressed natural gas is both less expensive than gasoline and it is domestically produced.  So it’s a real win-win.

For those new to the Westport brand, can you give a brief review of your offering?

Westport Innovations has over 15 years in the gaseous industry, and is the global leader.  Westport Innovations offers solutions in three distinct areas:

  • Westport HD, which makes over the road tractor trailer engines
  • Cummins-Westport, which is a joint partnership with Cummins, and makes transit bus engines and vocational truck engines, and then
  • Westport LD, this new division.

Westport LD’s first offering, the WiNG power system, will be available beginning in the second quarter on the Ford Super Duty F250/F350.  Westport is the only CNG installer that utilizes a ship-thru code.


Units go from the Ford Louisville Truck Plant to the Westport facility, the power system is installed, and then returned to Ford for shipment directly to the ordering dealer.   

We do all the same testing that Ford does, including crash, altitude, hot and cold start, shaker, wind tunnel, and water-fording.  Pricing for the unit is $9,750 MSRP with the standard 18.4 GGE fuel cylinder (an optional 24 GGE tank is available for an additional $1,200).  Our entire business model calls for us to be as close to OEM as possible.

 

Aside from this innovation, what role does Westport LD intend to play?

Westport LD is inviting Ford Dealers across the country to become a Westport Authorized Distributor to sell and service these vehicles. Each Westport Authorized Distributor will complete specific Sales Training, Service/Parts Training and Facilities Requirements Training, enabling seasoned shops to get the necessary tools to be successful in selling Ford Super Duty pickups equipped with the WiNG power system.

 

 How does a Ford Dealer become a Westport Distributor?

To become a distributor:

  • A representative from the dealership is required to attend our sales training
    • The next training will be held February 21st in Detroit, MI
    • To help offset the cost, Westport LD will issue a $500 credit toward the cost of the first WiNG power system sold.
  • Vehicle Service Training is also required, and will be held at the dealership location
  • No parts stocking is required, as any necessary parts will be overnighted directly to the dealership
  • Some special tools may be required
  • Facility upgrades may be required in order to meet Federal laws, and the local fire marshal has the responsibility to confirm that the dealer’s maintenance facility complies with those laws 

 

Is there a specific person an interested dealership should contact to begin the process?

Dealers who are interested should contact me:

 

Craig Duffy

Fleet Sales Marketing Manager

cduffy@westport.com

(734) 233-6871 (office)

(248) 686-9223 (cell)

 


Are Natural Gas Vehicles Really Safe?
By Kasia McBride, NGVi Staff

With rising energy prices and growing concerns about both energy security and air quality, the number of fleets switching to natural gas has accelerated during the past few years.

 

Most people recognize that natural gas vehicles (NGVs) have many advantages. They are economical to operate and environmentally sound.  But many people don’t know that natural gas vehicles are among the safest vehicles in the country. Their strong safety record is based upon three facts:

  1. The physical properties of natural gas make it safer than most other fuels.


    Natural gas is non-toxic, and has no potential for ground or water contamination like liquid fuels.  It is lighter than air and unlike liquid fuels, it will not pool on the ground when leaked or spilled. Instead, it dissipates rapidly into the atmosphere giving little chance for ignition.


    The ignition temperature of natural gas is approximately 1,080°F compared to 600°F for gasoline, which makes it more difficult to ignite. Furthermore, natural gas has a narrow flammability range. It must be mixed with air in just the right proportion before it can ignite. It is only flammable when the fuel concentration in air is roughly between  5% and 15%.  If the mixture is either more or less than those percentages, natural gas simply will not burn.

    Property

    Natural Gas

    Gasoline

    Diesel

    Flammability limits

    5-15%

    1.4-7.6 %

    0.6-5.5%

    Auto ignition temperature

    1,080°F

    600°F

    446°F

    Source: Federal Transit Administration


  2. Natural gas vehicle fuel system installations and fueling infrastructure are designed and built based on strict national codes and federal standards.

    Natural gas vehicle fuel systems are installed according to National Fire Protection Association Document #52 (Vehicular Gaseous Fuel Systems Code).  Among other things, this standard covers the types of onboard fuel storage cylinders that can be installed on the vehicle as well as the safety factors required for all of the tubing and components that make up the high and low-pressure portions of the fuel system. 

    Cylinders that store natural gas onboard vehicles are made from stronger, more advanced technology materials than gasoline or diesel tanks. Compressed natural gas cylinders manufactured on or after March 27, 1995 must be produced and certified in accordance with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 304. Additionally, NTHSA requires that each vehicular CNG cylinder must receive a detailed visual inspection every 36 months or 36,000 miles whichever comes first, and following any fire or vehicle accident.


    Natural gas fueling stations in the U.S. must  meet numerous fire, mechanical, electrical and building codes and standards.  Among the most important are National Fire Protection Association standards 52 (cited above), 30A (Code for Motor Fuel Dispensing, Facilities and Repair Garages), 70 (National Electric Code), and American Society of Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, which include siting and set-back issues, and strict construction and materials specifications. 

    Unlike gasoline fuel systems, for natural gas vehicles, fuel is designed to flow into the vehicle without leaking to the environment which means there are no evaporative emissions during the fueling process. Also, there is no oxygen in the fuel system at either the station or on the vehicle.  This helps prevent the fuel from igniting in any other place than where it’s supposed to—inside the engine’s combustion chamber. Additionally, unless the fueling nozzle is properly connected to the vehicle fuel receptacle, natural gas simply will not flow.  This eliminates risk of natural gas accidentally flowing out of the nozzle and into the environment.

  3. CNG has a proven safety record as a vehicular fuel.

    Natural gas vehicles have an excellent safety record based on many years of operation.  According to a survey revised in 2008 of 8,331 natural gas powered utility, school, municipal and business fleet vehicles (NGVs) that traveled 178.3 million miles:

    • The NGV fleet vehicle injury rate was 37% lower than the gasoline fleet vehicle rate.
    • There were no fatalities compared with 1.28 deaths per 100 million miles for gasoline fleet vehicles.
    • The collision rate for NGVs was 31% lower than the rate for gasoline fleet vehicles.
    • The combined fleet of 8,331 NGVs was involved in seven fire incidents, only one of which was directly attributable to failure of the natural gas fuel system.


    Source: NGV America

 

All in all, the unique characteristics of natural gas, the rigorous safety standards, and confirmed solid safety record lead to the conclusion that NGVs are the safest vehicles on the road.  However, it is important to remember that any fuel can be hazardous if used incorrectly. Although liquid fuels like gasoline or diesel are included in this category, people have learned how to use those fuels safely. The same is true for natural gas, in that to use it correctly, learning about it first is crucial.

“Although natural gas has a proven safety record, proper education and training about the safety systems associated with  natural gas vehicles and fueling stations is extremely important and should not be ignored,” says Leo Thomason, Executive Director and lead instructor at NGVi. “Understanding NGVs and the technology for both vehicles and fueling can reduce risk as well as minimize accidents,” he says.


To learn more about NGVs including safety, check out Natural Gas Vehicles: The Decision Starts Here, an NGVi publication available in bulk quatities, specifically written to provide a comprehensive overview of natural gas vehicles as well as to provide answers to anyone involved in making decisions about natural gas as a transportation fuel.


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 October 2011)

 

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)

$3.46

$3.68

$0.22

per gallon

Diesel

$3.81

$3.95

$0.14

per gallon

CNG

$2.09

$2.07

$0.02

per GGE


Did You Know...  

Safety is goal number one for fleets, and natural gas vehicle (NGV) fleets are no exception. One of the main factors contributing to NGV fleet safety is effective compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel system inspections. These inspections are required by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) every three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Additionally, certain NGV accidents defined by NHTSA require partial inspection.

CNG fuel system inspectors must be trained by a recognized CNG fuel system inspection training provider. Training prepares inspectors to identify conditions which, if left undetected, may result in life-threatening situations. Training also prepares inspectors to pass an optional third-party examination administered by CSA Standards. Certification is an industry recommended practice.

The CNG fuel system inspection process is an external visual inspection. Cylinders are NOT removed from the vehicle. Well-trained inspectors know how to detect physical damage, loose brackets or deterioration to the external surface of the cylinder including scratches, nicks, dings, chips, abrasion, impact damage or chemical damage.

 

To read more about available NGV Safety Traning, click here.


NGVs & CNG in the News

NGVi Welcomes New Sponsors

Daily News 1/31/12

Chrysler to Begin Selling CNG Pickups, Natural Gas Truckin’ Along, Natural Gas Cabs Roll Out for Wheelchair Users, CNG/LNG Station Open in DeSoto, Green Policies Drive Washington Auto Show

Daily News 1/30/12

State Energy Program Helping Arkansans Convert to CNG, Waste Management Pilot Tests a Next-Gen Green Garbage Truck, Con-way Freight to Test CNG-powered Vehicles, This Chopper Has Different Fuel

Daily News 1/26/12

Greenkraft Obtains CARB Cert. for Natural Gas GM 6.0L, CNG Bus May Be Best Yet for Reading Buses, AT&T’s 5,000th Alt-Fuel Vehicle, Natural Gas Station Opening in Columbus, Obama’s Natural Gas Crusade

 

To read more, click here.


CNG Fuel Finder Upcoming Training from NGVi

The CNG Fuel Finder is a mobile application for iPhone or Android ​devices that helps you locate CNG fueling stations in the U.S.

The application allows you to:

  • Check prices, fill pressure, and ratings
  • Map routes and locate nearby stations
  • Add ratings, comments and photos
  • Get CNG news, blogs and video

To download this application, go to the Android Market or Apple Store.

NGV Driver & Mechanic Safety Training
February 28, 2012, Downey, CA


CNG Fuel System Inspector Training
February 29 - March 1, Downey, CA



Click here to Register

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ATMC


Upcoming Training

 

Level 1: NGV Essentials
and Safety Practices

March 28, 2017
Charlotte, NC

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

March 29-30, 2017
Charlotte, NC

Level 3: Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance
and Diagnostics Training

April 10-11, 2017
Egg Harbor, NJ

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

April 12-13, 2017
Egg Harbor, NJ

CNG Fueling Station
Design Training

April 24-25, 2017
Spring Valley, NV

CNG Fueling Station Operation
and Maintenance Training

April 26-27, 2017
Spring Valley, NV

Level 1: NGV Essentials
and Safety Practices

May 9, 2017
Denver, CO

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

March 10-11, 2017
Denver, CO

 

 

Register Now »



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About NGVi

Natural Gas Vehicle Institute is North America’s leading provider of training and consulting on natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Our services address the full range of natural gas vehicle and fueling issues, including:

Technical consulting services – Sizing and designing compressed natural gas fueling stations, vehicle assessments and technical assistance for fleets, CNG fueling station troubleshooting, natural gas vehicle maintenance facilities upgrades, liquefied natural gas fleet and fueling management.

Technical training – NGV Essentials and Safety Practices, CNG Fuel System Inspector Training, Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training, Light-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training, CNG Fueling Station Operation and Maintenance Training, CNG Fueling Station Design Training and CNG/LNG Codes and Standards Training for Fire Marshals and Code Officials.

 

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