Cummins Westport Inc., a joint venture of Cummins Inc. and Vancouver-based Westport Innovations Inc., announced today that it has partnered with SunLine Transit Agency of Thousand Palms, Calif., to field test two transit buses fueled by a blend of hydrogen and natural gas (HCNG).
The goal of the project is to further examine the environmental benefits and performance characteristics of the blended fuel, including the potential to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, compared with natural gas. Previous tests have shown that a blend of 20% hydrogen and 80% methane by volume, known as Hythane, can reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen without hurting the performance and efficiency of a natural gas engine.
To assess the technology and fuel mixture, SunLine, which in 1994 was the first public transit agency in the U.S. to convert to a fleet powered entirely by low emission natural gas engines, will cooperate with Cummins Westport to prepare two recalibrated versions of Cummins Westport’s newly-developed B Gas Plus engine.
For comparative purposes, SunLine will also operate two natural gas transit buses with new B Gas Plus engines. Cummins Westport expects to complete engine development by the end of the year so that the bus test can begin early in 2003. SunLine will operate the engines in buses for at least three months on a test basis, augmenting its existing fleet of natural gas powered buses and street sweepers.
The agency has operated Cummins Westport engines since 1994 and has logged 25 million miles on natural gas vehicles. “While we are dedicated to assisting the development of hydrogen powered vehicles, we recognize that fuel cell buses are not yet commercially available,” said Richard Cromwell III, general manager and CEO of SunLine.
“We believe a blend of hydrogen and natural gas in reliable, commercial Cummins Westport internal combustion engines, will be a cost-effective bridge technology that produces very low emissions while developing an early market for hydrogen. Proving the concept is the goal of the project.”
Assuming positive results, SunLine plans to then repower 29 more buses and street sweepers with Cummins Westport B Gas Plus engines for blended hydrogen-natural gas service. The 230-horsepower B Gas Plus, which will be released to the market this month, represents state-of-the art alternative fuel engine technology.
“CWI recognizes the potential importance of hydrogen as a fuel in the future,” said Westport chief technology officer Patric Ouellette. “Our new plus technology is well suited to using hydrogen as part of the fuel mixture and we look forward to working with SunLine to demonstrate this. SunLine and Cummins Westport have worked together in the past and are presently testing the new generation B Gas Plus for use in their transit fleet.”
Have your say: