Cummins Supports Hurricane Awareness Tour

Photo Credit: NOAA
Photo Credit: NOAA

Hurricane Hunters gather information about tropical storms and hurricanes to help meteorologists more accurately forecast the paths of these dangerous storms. In 2017, the Hurricane Hunters flew more than 800 hours during 90+ missions and are preparing for another busy hurricane season in 2018. These Hurricane Hunter aircrafts were one of the biggest attractions at last week’s Hurricane Awareness Tour (HAT) – an annual event targeting hurricane prone coastal and inland cities.

Thousands attended tour stops along the Gulf Coast, including McAllen, TX; Beaumont, TX; Baton Rouge, LA; Montgomery, AL; and Lakeland, FL. Each stop featured National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricane experts, scientists and crew members who taught attendees about hurricanes, safety, prep and what it’s like to be a “Hurricane Hunter.”

The HAT offers local citizens and students the opportunity to tour the aircrafts and meet with pilots and NOAA representatives to understand more about how hurricanes form and how they monitor for them. Attendees got to tour the WC-130J - "Hercules" – a high-wing, medium-range aircraft used in weather reconnaissance missions to collect weather data. Hercules is one of ten specially configured aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force Reserve. The NOAA Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV) aka Gonzo, a high-tech, high-flying, and high-speed plane used for hurricane forecasting and research, was also on hand.

National and local agencies, including FEMA, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, police, fire and safety departments, were on-site to discuss weather safety, preparedness and recovery.

Are you prepared for when hurricane season starts? Check out Cummins’, a sponsor of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) #HurricaneStrong campaign, tips for preparing for severe weather and natural disasters.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Cummins dealer co-op program helps WWII Veteran

When the Arkansas Veterans Administration (VA) contacted Cummins dealer, Northside Power, about providing a generator to a local WWII Veteran – Northside Power didn’t hesitate.

“We feel this is one of the simplest things we can do to honor someone who gave their time in service to our country during such a trying time in history,” said Greg Nalley, Owner of Northside Power. 

James Joseph Torres (Jim), 93, was born on May 23, 1926 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Shortly after graduating high school, Torres was drafted into the United States Navy at the age of 18. “I was 1 of 700 people drafted that day,” recalls Torres, “They just told me you’re going to the Navy.” Torres was soon sent to San Diego, California for naval training where he was trained as a fireman. During his three-year enlistment, he would spend most of his time on the U.S.S Massachusetts sailing to different ports all over the world including the Philippines, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal. 

After three years in the Navy, Torres transferred branches and enlisted in the Fourth Army where he served as a Corporal in the 1040 Squadron at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. There Torres set up a M.A.S.H medical unit used to train medics and nurses that were being sent to the Korean War. While working at the Brooke General Hospital at Fort Sam Houston, Torres managed to catch a glimpse of the famous General Douglas MacArthur. “He was walking through the hospital smoking his pipe,” remembers Torres. 

After six years in the Army, Torres enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he trained to become a crew chief on the B-52 bomber. “I scored the highest out of all the candidates on the test that day,” said Torres. He was subsequently stationed in Shreveport, Louisiana at Barksdale Air Force Base and retired in 1966 with the rank of Master Sergeant/E8.

Cummins continues to be a strong supporter of the US Armed forces. Supporting veterans aligns with the company’s core values and beliefs. Through the years, the company has provided power solutions to our troops in the field, as well as, mobile power solutions for military vehicles.

Torres yard

After learning that Mr. Torres was in failing health and did not qualify for additional services through the Veterans Administration, Northside Power and Cummins felt compelled to help. Using funds from the Cummins Co-Op Policy program, Northside Power was able to install the Cummins QuietConnect Series generator at no cost to Mr. Torres. 

Jill Weiler headshot

Jill Weiler

Jill Weiler is a Marketing and Communications Senior Specialist for the DBU. She joined the company in 2012, and has served in a variety of roles including Visual Communications as an associate producer and project manager. Prior to joining Cummins, Jill served in the United States Army for 4 years.

Five practical tips to keep your facilities and business on through potential power outages

Keep business running through a power outage

Healthcare services, water plants, data centers, greenhouses, food manufacturing and textile facilities producing personal protective equipment (PPE), all play a key role in overcoming the current pandemic. These industries also have another thing in common; uninterrupted access to electricity is critical for the continuity of their operations. 

Fortunately, resiliency and flexibility in our electricity infrastructure is expected to prevent any large-scale blackouts. Moreover, these facilities are also commonly equipped with on-site back-up power generation systems. These systems keep these critical facilities running if the utility power goes out. 

This article outlines five practical maintenance tips for your business’ back-up power system. These tips aim to address preventable and inspectable issues, and are complementary to your scheduled and unscheduled maintenance procedures, not substitutes to your existing procedures. 

No. 1: Regularly exercise your back-up power systems 

Regular exercising helps with reliable engine starting. It keeps engine parts lubricated, prevents oxidation of electrical contacts and uses up fuel before it deteriorates. Exercise your generator set at least once a month for a minimum of 30 minutes loaded to no less than one-third of the nameplate rating. Try avoiding periods of no-load operation, since unburned fuel tends to accumulate in the exhaust system. One testing option is to simulate a power outage by conducting the test with your facility’s load. Alternatively, you can use a load bank during testing if connecting to the facility load is not convenient for test purposes. 

No. 2: Ensure there is adequate fuel; confirm fuel quality 

Start by checking the main and day tank fuel levels to ensure you have enough fuel to operate as needed. Continue your visual inspection by checking for any leaks, cracks or loose connections. Tighten the clamps as necessary. Inspect the day tank float switch; it ensures the day tank is getting filled from the main fuel tank, as the fuel level within the day tank drops. Drain any water or sediments from the fuel system if necessary. Diesel fuel, when stored, is at risk of contamination. Exercising the generator set regularly is one way to address the contamination risk, since the fuel gets used through this planned exercise. NFPA 110 recommends testing fuel quality at least annually to ensure stored fuel has not degraded significantly and to identify treatment opportunities. If there is need, you can consider fuel polishing and tank cleaning. 

No. 3: Confirm that starting batteries are sufficiently charged  

Weak or undercharged starting batteries are the most common cause of standby power system failures. Begin with a visual inspection of starting batteries. The connections at the terminals need to be tight and clean of any corrosion. You can clean the batteries by wiping them with a damp cloth. Corrosion at the terminals can be cleaned with a solution of baking soda and water. Finish up by checking the electrolyte level and specific gravity. Fill the battery cells with distilled water if electrolyte levels are low. If the specific gravity reading is below 1.215, charge the battery. You can also check whether the batteries have recently been replaced; batteries should be replaced every three years.

No. 4: Regularly inspect and test power system transfer equipment

Transfer switch equipment generally requires limited maintenance, compared to power generators. Start by verifying all indication lamps are functional, and the control switches are in the proper (AUTOMATIC) position. Check circuit breakers and fuses to ensure they are free of dirt or corrosion. If your facility is required to be NFPA 110 compliant, test the transfer switches at least once a month. 

No. 5: Conduct daily visual inspections of your back-up power system

A simple daily walk around your back-up power system could help you identify preventable issues before they lead into loss of life, personal injury, property damage or loss of business income. Conduct a daily visual inspection including, but not limited to:

  • Check for oil and coolant levels.
  • Check for any debris, loose or broken parts; check if there are any leakages.
  • Check the operation of the engine coolant heater(s). If the engine block is not warm to the touch, the jacket water heaters are likely not working and the engine may be challenged to start.
  • Keep the area around the generator clear; do not store items around or on top of the generator. 
  • Make sure the generator and automatic transfer switches are locked 

Please ensure to follow the schedule in the operator’s manual for routine periodic engine and generator maintenance in addition to these practical tips. Many of the tips in this article are adapted from the following resources that you can check for further details.

Sign up below for Energy IQ to periodically receive relevant energy insights and trends from Cummins Inc. 

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Energy IQ: Twenty energy terms described in 50 words or less

Energy IQ - Energy terms defined

You have questions about energy, we have answers. In our latest Energy IQ article, we take a stab at defining 20 energy-related terms in 50 words or less. 

Energy is the cornerstone of our lives. We often use six different forms of energy within the first hour of our day. Washing your face requires electric energy to be converted to kinetic energy within the water pump. Using the stove to cook breakfast converts the chemical energy within natural gas to heat (thermal energy). Turning on the TV converts electric energy to light and sound, two more forms of energy.

In our latest Energy IQ article, we've attempted to describe 20 common energy terms in 50 words or less. You might be aware of some of these, yet some might be relatively new for you. 

Let’s start with the basics. Here are three key words that are used quite frequently: Energy, electricity and power. 

What is energy? 

Energy is the capacity of doing work. Energy can’t be created or destroyed, but only converted from one form to another, according to the first law of thermodynamics. There are nine forms of energy, and we convert energy between these forms to get the needed work done.

What is power? 

Power is the time rate of performing the work. As you apply power (watts) over time (hours), energy is consumed (watt-hours). Many devices generate power; a diesel electric generator produces power by converting chemical energy to electricity, and a solar panel produces power by converting the energy of sunlight into electricity.

What is electricity? 

Electricity is simply one of the many forms of energy and is created by the movement of electrons. The ease of distribution and the ability to use it safely makes electricity a popular form of energy in our lives.

The simple experiment outlined in this article will help you never forget the difference between power and energy, and details the differences between energy, electricity and power.

Many technologies and components work together to bring us the energy, power and electricity we need. Let’s start with the system level terminology before covering individual components.

What is distributed generation?

Distributed generation is an interconnected ecosystem of smaller power generation systems at or close to the point of consumption. This proximity reduces the cost, complexity and inefficiency associated with electricity distribution. Distributed generation also offers the benefit of reduced emissions through the integration of renewable sources with existing energy assets. 

What is a microgrid? 

A microgrid is a local energy system capable of producing, (potentially storing) and distributing energy to the facilities within the network. Microgrids can include several different assets, also called distributed energy resources (DERs). You can read how microgrids work, why we need microgrids and their advantages in this article. 

What is a microgrid?
Microgrids provide energy through distributed energy resources (DERs) and are near the facilities they power. 

What are distributed energy resources (DERs)?

Distributed energy resources (DERs) are electricity-producing resources connected to the local electric distribution system. Solar photovoltaics (PV), power generators, fuel cells and stationary energy storage systems are some of DER examples. You can read more about three common use cases and deployments of distributed energy resources in this article. 

What is a smart grid? 

Smart grid refers to modern electric grids where a mix of technologies that enable two-way communication between the utility and its customers. Controls, computing equipment and other digital technologies work together as components of the smart grid to increase the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid. 

Let’s now move into individual components that work together within the broader energy eco-system.

What is a power generator? 

In electricity generation, a power generator is the device that converts mechanical, chemical, solar or other forms of energy to electricity. The electricity then can be used to power buildings, facilities, homes or mobile applications such as recreational vehicles. 

What is a fuel cell?

Fuel cells are energy converters; they convert energy from one form to another. More specifically, fuel cells convert the chemical energy stored in the fuel to electric and thermal energy (heat), without the need for combustion. You can read more about fuel cell basics in this article

What is a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC)? 

A solid oxide fuel cell is a type of fuel cell; it produces electricity, water, heat and small amounts of carbon dioxide. SOFCs can operate at high temperatures, so the system can cope with hydrogen reformer and use natural gas as the fuel. You can read how solid oxide fuel cells work and their advantages in this article.

What is an energy storage system?

Stationary energy storage systems store energy and release it in the form of electricity when needed. An energy storage system usually includes batteries, a control system, inverter and thermal management system in an enclosure. You can read how energy storage systems work and advantages of energy storage systems in this article

What is an automatic transfer switch (ATS)? 

Automatic transfer switches (ATS) switch electrical loads between available power sources. Most often, ATS are used to transfer the electrical load from the utility source to a back-up power generator during a utility power outage. ATS reconnect the load to utility power when the utility power is restored.

Often, electricity generation is simultaneous with the generation of other forms of energy. This simultaneous operation reduces wasted energy and increases energy efficiency. Let’s cover the terminology associated with these energy efficient applications. 

What is cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power (CHP)?

Cogeneration is the simultaneous production of multiple forms of energy from a single fuel source. Thermal (heat) and electrical (electricity) energy are usually the two forms of energy produced in many types of cogeneration applications. You can read more about how cogeneration works and the advantages of cogeneration in this article. 

Cummins cogeneration
Cogeneration delivers significantly higher efficiency than traditional grid with central power plants. 

What is trigeneration, also known as combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP)?

Trigeneration is usually the simultaneous production of cooling, heat and electricity through a single fuel source. Some trigeneration applications produce electricity and recover heat while simultaneously utilizing the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the exhaust. This CO2 helps with photosynthesis in greenhouses or carbonation of beverages in bottling facilities.

Let’s now move into the terminology associated with the economic aspects of energy and electricity. 

What is spark spread? 

The spark spread is a metric for estimating the profitability of natural gas-fired electric generators. It is the difference between the price of electricity and the cost of the natural gas needed to produce that electricity 1. As the spark spread increases, savings provided by a cogeneration system also increases.

What is demand response? 

Demand Response is the act of reducing electricity usage during peak demand times to lower your cost of electricity. Generally, customers participate in programs with utilities and agree to reduce demand when needed. To reduce the demand, customers can turn things off, selectively use large loads during off-peak times, or generate their own electricity during peaks.

What is demand charge management?

This is like demand response with a specific focus on reducing demand charges (kW) and associated costs. Demand charge management defines an overall plan which can incorporate several methods of demand reduction and self-generation with the goal of reducing the cost of electricity associated with demand charges (kW).

You can read more about customers' emerging needs around economics, including demand response and demand charge management, making distributed generation an important component of electricity markets in this article.

Let’s wrap by covering the terminology associated with different types of fuels used. 

What are renewable energy sources? 

Energy sources that naturally replenish over time are called renewable energy sources. Solar, wind, tides, hydropower and geothermal heat are some of the examples for renewable energy sources. While the availability of these renewable energy sources could be intermittent, they are considered inexhaustible over time. 

What is diesel fuel? 

Diesel fuel is a liquid fuel obtained through distillation of crude oil. Diesel fuel is a mixture of hydrocarbons, aromatics and paraffins with high chemical energy density. An internal combustion engine fueled with diesel converts this chemical energy to heat and kinetic energy. 

What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a fuel that primarily consists of methane (CH4); it is colorless and odorless in its original form. Natural gas can be combusted very efficiently and emits less pollutants than many fossil fuels. It has surpassed oil and nuclear to become the second most commonly used fuel in electricity generation.

Sign up below for Energy IQ to receive energy focused insights in markets ranging from data centers and healthcare facilities to schools and manufacturing facilities, and everything beyond. To learn more about the energy and power generation solutions Cummins Inc. offers, visit our webpage.


1 U.S. Energy Administration Office (February 2013). An Introduction to Spark Spreads. Retrieved from

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Energy IQ: What is a solid oxide fuel cell and how fuel cells work

Cummins solid oxide fuel cells

July 20, 1969 might not immediately ring a bell, but what if we were to give you a hint by saying the word "Apollo?" 

Yes, that was the date humans first landed on the moon as a part of the Apollo 11 mission. Most of us remember details such as the images of astronauts on the Moon’s surface, and Neil Armstrong’s reaction, “That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Yet many don’t know how the spacecraft obtained its electrical power through this historical mission.

Fuel cells were NASA’s answer to this challenge, as Apollo spacecraft carried three hydrogen-fuel cells to provide electricity for all the equipment. Each of these fuel cell modules had 31 individual fuel cells stacked together 1.

Over 50 years later, fuel cells today are used in a variety of applications ranging from vehicles to data centers. Let’s focus on solid oxide fuel cells and answer four common questions to boost your energy IQ.

Question No. 1: What is a solid oxide fuel cell?

Simply put, all fuel cells are energy converters; they convert energy from one form to another. More specifically, fuel cells convert the chemical energy stored in the fuel to electric and thermal energy (heat), without the need for combustion. Engines and power plants also convert energy from one form to another, but they rely on combustion, which reduces the overall efficiency of the energy conversion.

Solid oxide fuel cells are one of the many types of fuel cells and produce electricity, water, heat and small amounts of carbon dioxide using natural gas as the fuel.  

Question No. 2: How does a solid oxide fuel cell work? 

Electricity is the movement of electrons, and all elements (hydrogen, oxygen and others) have varying numbers of electrons. 

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells - Electricity
Solid oxide fuel cells produce electricity, movement of electrons. 

A solid oxide fuel cell utilizes the movement of electrons and generates electricity in few basic steps.

  1. Natural gas goes through a steam-reforming process. This chemical reaction produces hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and steam (H2O). There will be some unreformed natural gas left in the mix as well.
  2. The mix of elements from the reformer enter the fuel cell at the anode side. Meanwhile, air (including oxygen) enters the fuel cell at the cathode side. 
  3. Oxygen in the air combines with free electrons to form oxide ions at the cathode. Oxide ions with free electrons travel from the cathode to the anode through the electrolyte.
  4. At the anode, oxide ions react with hydrogen forming water (steam) and with carbon monoxide (CO) forming carbon dioxide (CO2).  
  5. Reactions covered on Step #4 release free electrons. These free electrons travel to cathode through the external electrical circuit, producing electricity.

Question No. 3: What are the differences between solid oxide and proton exchange membrane fuel cells?

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, also known as hydrogen fuel cells, and solid oxide fuel cells share the same basic operating principles yet have many differences. Here are two of these differences impacting how these technologies are being used today. 

Types of fuel cells
Comparison of four primary types of fuel cells. 
  • Fuel : PEM fuel cells use pure hydrogen (H2) as fuel. Meanwhile, solid oxide fuel cells can use hydrocarbon fuels such as natural gas, methane and propane to produce electricity. 
  • Size: While a single cell of a PEM fuel cell and a solid oxide fuel cell don’t differ significantly in size, the size difference comes into play when a fuel cell module is assembled together. A typical PEM fuel cell module would be smaller than a solid oxide fuel cell module. This makes PEM fuel cells a good candidate for transportation applications ranging from trucks and buses to trains and boats. 

Question No. 4: Why do we need solid oxide fuel cells?

The benefits of solid oxide fuel cells vary depending upon the application but two benefits remain consistent across applications. 

  1. High efficiency delivers environmental and financial benefits: Electrical efficiency of solid oxide fuel cells reach up to 60% 2. This means 60% of the energy stored in the fuel is converted to useful electrical energy. This is much higher than the efficiencies of coal power plants. Moreover, the use of excess heat produced by the fuel cell for heating purposes in a cogeneration application will further increase the overall efficiency over 80%. Additionally, since fuel cells could be located locally, they eliminate the inefficiencies associated with distribution losses from large central power plants.

    This high efficiency delivers financial benefits and minimizes the environmental footprint, since solid oxide fuel cells commonly use natural gas as fuel in comparison to traditional power plants using coal as fuel. Solid oxide fuel cells also don’t emit sulphur oxides and particulate matter.
  2. Modular design brings scalability: The individual fuel cells are bundled together to form a stack. These stacks are then combined with other equipment to form modules. These individual power generation modules can be paralleled to form the fuel cell power system. You can add more fuel cell modules to the overall system as you need. This provides financial flexibility for the user to align the power generation investments with business needs.

Microgrids and fuel cells to energy storage devices, our energy future includes a diverse set of technologies and fuels, and Cummins is committed to innovating and delivering a variety of power solutions to meet these diverse needs of customers. 

Sign up below for Energy IQ to periodically receive relevant insights and trends about energy markets. To learn more about distributed generation solutions Cummins offers, visit our webpage.

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1 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. (n.d.). Apollo to the Moon, About the Spacecraft [Web page]. Retrieved from
2 U.S. Energy Department, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy . (n.d.). Comparison of Fuel Cell Technologies [Table]. Retrieved from


Raise Your Energy IQ

Grow professionally with energy trends and insights delivered to your inbox. Read about energy technologies and trends on our Energy IQ Hub.

Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

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