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NGVAmerica Applauds DOE R&D Investment in Natural Gas Transportation Technologies

Grant Awards Funded by Federal Appropriations Championed by NGVA

Washington, DC – NGVAmerica today applauded the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement that it is immediately investing $18 million in projects to advance medium- and heavy-duty natural gas vehicle technologies.

DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) selected nine distinct projects jointly funded by DOE, the California Energy Commission (CEC), and the Southcoast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to advance the state of technology for natural gas vehicles (NGVs).

“Today’s announcement by DOE and NREL publicly affirms the federal government’s belief that natural gas vehicles are an important part of our nation’s transportation mix yesterday, today, and well into the future,” said NGVAmerica President Dan Gage. “Natural gas is ready-right-now technology for all vehicle applications, and this investment further expands NGVs’ capability and reliability and increases their emissions- and carbon-free performance. When fueled by captured biomethane, natural gas truck and bus engines are the cleanest and most-immediate solution for those seeking a net carbon-negative fleet footprint.”

The selected projects focus on reducing the total cost of NGV ownership, increasing vehicle efficiency, decreasing local air pollution, and advancing technology development to increase the use of more affordable medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engines and vehicles:

Cummins High Efficiency, Ultra Low Emissions Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Engine Research and Development Project
Cummins, Inc. – Columbus, Indiana
Cummins Inc. will address natural gas engine emissions and efficiency improvements by developing a natural gas specific combustion design utilizing optimized in-cylinder charge motion and cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The engine will be integrated on a global heavy-duty base engine platform, enabling up to a 20 percent system cost reduction. The technical targets of the project include demonstrating a 10 percent improvement in cycle average and peak brake thermal efficiency over the current commercially available product; maintaining 0.02 g/bhp-hr NOx capability with reduced aftertreatment cost; and demonstrating a diesel-like torque curve.

CNG Full Fills with a Complete Smart Fueling System
Gas Technology Institute – Des Plaines, Illinois
The Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and its partners will address total cost of ownership by developing and demonstrating a smart fueling system, including the full suite of necessary technologies to enable consistent full fills of natural gas vehicles. These technologies include a smart vehicle and dispenser, an advanced full fill algorithm and cost-effective gas pre-cooling using a near-isentropic free piston expander/compressor. This combination of technologies seeks to solve the technical challenges of dispensing uncertainty and heat of compression that results in natural gas vehicles being under-filled.

Downsized, Optimized, High Efficiency, Spark Ignited Natural Gas Engine
Gas Technology Institute – Des Plaines, Illinois
GTI and its partners will address natural gas engine and vehicle availability by developing a production intent, optimized, spark ignited natural gas engine demonstrating near-zero emissions and meeting EPA 2027MY greenhouse gas (GHG) targets in a Class 6 vocational vehicle.

A Compression-Ignition Mono-Fueled NG High-Efficiency, High-Output Engine for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Applications
Michigan Technological University – Houghton, Michigan
Michigan Technological University and Westport will address natural gas engine emissions and efficiency improvements by demonstrating the feasibility of compression ignition of directly injected natural gas. This research will enable development of mono-fuel natural gas internal combustion engine technology.

Development of a Pent-Roof Medium-Duty Spark-Ignited Natural Gas Engine in an Optimized Hybrid Vehicle System
Southwest Research Institute – San Antonio, Texas
Southwest Research Institute and Isuzu will address natural gas engine emissions and efficiency improvements and engine availability by developing and demonstrating a hybrid medium-duty truck using advanced natural gas spark-ignited engine. A pent-roof cylinder head version of a diesel engine will be developed for operation on natural gas and integrated into a medium-duty truck chassis. The pent-roof design will enable the use of elevated levels of EGR dilution to yield a high efficiency engine that can also meet future NOX regulations. To further the vehicle level efficiency gains, a hybrid drivetrain system will be integrated into the truck as well to provide a demonstration of a highly optimized low GHG emission medium-duty truck.

A Multi-Cylinder Transient Plasma Ignition System for Increased Efficiency and Reduced Emissions in Natural Gas Engines
Transient Plasma Systems, Inc. – Torrance, California
Transient Plasma Systems and Argonne National Laboratory will address natural gas emissions and efficiency improvements by developing a production intent prototype of a transient plasma ignition system to enable stable ignition of natural gas and air mixtures that challenge traditional spark plugs. This project will demonstrate the increase in combustion stability at high-pressure, high-exhaust gas recirculation conditions across a wider operating range relative to existing or future heavy-duty natural gas spark-ignition internal combustion engines.

Plug-in Hybrid CNG Drayage Truck “PHET”
US Hybrid Corporation – Torrance, California
US Hybrid Corporation and its partners will address total cost of ownership by developing and demonstrating a fully integrated and optimized natural gas, plug-in hybrid class 8 vehicle utilizing the Cummins 9-liter near zero emission engine, a commercialized parallel hybrid powertrain with 240hp rating and a 40kWh liquid-cooled high-power density lithium ion battery pack. The project includes a 24-month demonstration in port drayage operations to quantify emission and performance improvements and will implement a GPS-based predictive geofencing hybrid control architectures to ensure zero emission operation at the port.

High-Efficiency Natural Gas Dual Fuel Combustion Strategies for Heavy-Duty Engines
University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The University of Alabama, in collaboration with an industrial partner, will address natural gas emissions and efficiency improvements by developing a laboratory scale proof-of-concept for a commercially viable high-efficiency natural gas dual fuel heavy-duty engine that will conform to current and future emissions standards. The strategies to achieve this include use of a high cetane oxygenated pilot fuel, spray-targeted reactivity stratification, variable valve actuation, and temperature-controlled exhaust gas recirculation.

Development of Zeolite-Based Catalysts for Improved Low Temperature CH4 Conversion
University at Buffalo – Buffalo, New York
The University of Buffalo and its partners will address natural gas emissions and efficiency improvements by developing a novel aftertreatment system for future natural gas vehicles using palladium-based catalysts, which have shown the best activity for the oxidation of CH4 at low temperatures.

Projects selected through this solicitation will complement DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) research started in FY 2017. Today’s awards compliment DOE’s March 1st announcement that it is seeking concept papers for proposed projects to expand performance, improve efficiency, and lower equipment costs funded by $16.5 million in secured FY 2019 funding.

Both recent announcements address issues identified by NGVAmerica as technical barriers to expanded NGV deployment in North America. NGVA’s February 4th submission to DOE can be accessed here.


NGVAmerica is a national organization of over 200 companies, environmental groups, and government organizations dedicated to the development of a growing, profitable, and sustainable market for vehicles powered by natural gas or biomethane. NGVAmerica member companies produce, distribute, and market natural gas and biomethane across North America, manufacture and service natural gas vehicles, engines, and equipment, and operate fleets powered by clean-burning gaseous fuels.