CU-ICAR, EcoDual partner on natural gas engine research

March 10, 2013

From GSA Business

A new S.C. partnership aims to convert diesel engines to natural gas operations.

The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research and Beaufort-based EcoDual Inc. are partnering on R&D of the commercial availability of natural gas engine systems for heavy-duty diesel trucks.

They will focus their combined resources on conversion of diesel engines already on the road to natural gas operation and on the reduction of exhaust emissions, according to a news release.

EcoDual’s system allows conversion of a heavy-duty diesel to run on a combination of natural gas and diesel fuels. More than 60% of the engine’s power is generated by burning natural gas.

“We expect to see a significant uptake in the use of natural gas for heavy-duty vehicles in the immediate future, driven by the projected low prices of this fuel compared to diesel,” said Zoran Filipi, CU-ICAR’s Timken Endowed Chair in Vehicle System Design, in a news release. “The increased use of natural gas for transportation is the most cost-effective way to utilize the vast quantity of newly discovered domestic reserves.”

The team will address challenges associated with optimizing natural gas use in new diesel engines under development by original equipment manufacturers. The team also will research strategies to develop clean combustion engines.

“This new research relationship with EcoDual is very exciting for us and will unlock the full potential of this technology, including the possibilities to make engines run cleaner,” Filipi said. “This partnership creates outstanding opportunities for our students and faculty to engage in transforming the commercial fleets on the nation’s roads.”

The EPA recently approved the first EcoDual conversion systems for the 15L Cummins ISX, the Class 8 heavy-duty diesel engine. Development is under way for additional Cummins and Detroit Diesel heavy-duty engines.

In dual-fuel operation, trucks maintain the same torque, power and fuel economy as when they run on straight diesel fuel, and there is no “range anxiety” with EcoDual systems, as they automatically run on 100% diesel if the natural gas tanks ever run out, according to a news release.

“Our partnership with CU-ICAR provides tremendous faculty expertise and world-class development facilities,” EcoDual CEO Scott Myers said in a news release. “We look forward to this collaboration.”

CU-ICAR is an advanced-technology research campus in Greenville where academia, industry and government organizations collaborate to create a global venue for the automotive industry.

EcoDual Inc. is an independent provider of patent-pending dual fuel conversion systems enabling existing heavy-duty diesel trucks to operate on a combination of diesel and natural gas. The EcoDual team has designed, developed and sold natural gas systems for heavy trucks globally for more than 15 years.

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