The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded over $7.1 million in funding to three projects advancing clean automotive transportation technologies supported by Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas). The utility’s Research, Development & Demonstration department will provide $730,000 in additional funding for the projects which are led by Cummins, Inc., GTI and West Virginia University Research Corporation. The projects will advance fuel cell technology for on-road trucking and transit, near-zero emissions natural gas technology for rail locomotives, and best practices to reduce maintenance costs for alternative fuel vehicles.
“SoCalGas is committed to being an integral part of California’s energy future, and as we work on achieving our goal to be the cleanest gas utility in North America, supporting the research and development of clean transportation technologies is key,” said Yuri Freedman, senior director of business development at SoCalGas. “The transportation sector accounts for around 40% of California’s GHG emissions, and developing zero- and near-zero emissions vehicle technology is critical to mitigating the impacts of climate change.”
The three projects:
1. In conjunction with Cummins Inc., this project will develop a single prototype zero-emissions fuel cell design that can power both heavy-duty class 8 trucks and transit buses. The fuel cell will be designed to be modular, scalable, and fully integrated within such trucks and buses, and aims to provide technology that could significantly reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in California’s cities and transit corridors. Developing a single fuel cell package that can power multiple types of heavy-duty vehicles could reduce maintenance costs for these trucks and buses.
2. A project led by GTI that aims to develop and demonstrate a natural gas hybrid line-haul rail locomotive that will minimize emissions below the current standards and operate on renewable natural gas. A suite of commercially available products will be integrated to create a commercially viable CNG hybrid system to power 4,300 hp rail locomotives that meet the Tier 5 locomotive standard.
3. In conjunction with West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (WVU CAFEE), the project will study the difference in maintenance and labor costs for new, alternative fuel trucks powered by natural gas, propane and electric compared to standard diesel trucks. This maintenance cost assessment will study the link between operational characteristics of alternative fuel vehicles and how it affects maintenance and repair activity.