Ricardo Inc. is partnering with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) on two major contracts to enable natural gas engines to provide a viable, fuel-efficient and less polluting alternative to diesel power for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles in California.
Co-funded by Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), the Ricardo-GTI projects intend to develop natural gas technologies that will reduce NOx emissions from heavy-duty truck engines, consume less fuel than current diesels and provide truck operators with higher engine performance with the same reliability.
Ricardo’s role in the first project will be to conduct the testing of two different advanced ignition systems – High Frequency Discharge (HFD) and Pulsed Nano Plasma (C2) – so that their effect on engine performance can be measured and evaluated.
The second project will have Ricardo support GTI in the development of an ultra-low emissions natural gas engine for on-road Class 4-7 medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
These classes of diesel vehicles are currently among the top 10 sources of NOx emissions in California’s South Coast Air Basin and are projected to remain one of the largest, even as the legacy fleet of older and higher-polluting vehicles are replaced by vehicles meeting 2010 emissions standards.
“Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are an essential part of the transportation mix in California, but they are also significant contributors to total NOx emissions,” comments Clive Wotton, president of Ricardo. “Trucks such as these are not as amenable to the type of electrification and hybridization approaches that have been applied very successfully in the passenger car and SUV sector. However, the substitution of diesel with natural gas as a transportation fuel for these classes of vehicle offers some attractive potential benefits in reducing NOx emissions.”