Three key benefits of cogeneration

Three key benefits of cogeneration

Cogeneration is an efficient way of producing electricity, heat and, in some cases, cooling. 

Traditional power generation systems waste a large portion of the energy that is released by the combustion of fuel. Energy losses typically occur via the exhaust gas combustion, through the steam condensing system, and out of the various cooling systems. 

Cogeneration systems recover heat from those energy loss pathways and put that heat to good use. This is typically by providing heat or hot water to a nearby property or properties.

Cogeneration has wide appeal because most buildings need what cogeneration systems can provide—electricity, heat, and cooling. 

Installing a cogeneration system can reduce a building’s carbon footprint, enhance the reliability of its electric supply, and, crucially, save money. More broadly, the wide adoption of cogeneration provides benefits to the broader community. These benefits are enhancing the community’s energy security and making its energy infrastructure more resilient.

Sustainability benefits of cogeneration

Environmental concerns motivate many cogeneration projects. 

Traditional fossil-fuel-burning power plants waste between 70% and 40% of the energy that they consume to produce electricity. By recovering much of that waste energy, cogeneration systems remove the need to burn additional fuel for heating purposes. This saves energy and reduces emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants. 

For many organizations, investing in a cogeneration system is a smart and cost-effective step towards meeting environmental commitments. 

Various programs, such as the LEED rating system, are available to independently assess and certify progress made in that regard. Additionally, incentives exist at the local, regional, and national level. These incentives reward those who invest in a cogeneration system for their contribution to environmental sustainability. In the United States, for example, a 10% federal tax credit is available to the owners of qualifying systems. This incentivization often shifts the return on investment of a cogeneration system from good to great.

Cogeneration users who can produce their own fuel on site for use in the cogeneration equipment can save even more energy. 

Many industrial processes generate a combustible by-product. This by-product can be burned in a boiler or a power generator to produce electricity and heat. Wastewater treatment facilities, for example, can generate large quantities of methane-bearing gas from the fermentation of sewage sludge. Rather than flare that valuable gas, many facility owners have chosen to use it to fuel a cogeneration system. These facilities are thus able to power their electrical equipment and heat their fermentation pools very cheaply. 

Financial benefits and ROI of cogeneration

Regardless of environmental benefits, far fewer cogeneration systems would exist if cogeneration didn’t also save money. 

At the most basic level, cogeneration systems allow their owners to reduce electricity bills as well as heating and cooling bills. Well-considered cogeneration investments can typically break even within a few years. 

Here are some of the factors that can boost a cogeneration system’s return on investment:

Demand charges and other surcharges

The electric utility levies a demand charge or applies onerous time-of-use surcharges. It is common for utilities to charge large consumers a fee that increases with their peak instant electricity demand. This is in addition to charging for the amount of kilowatt-hours consumed. 

An on-site generator installed behind the meter can effectively shave off those peaks and reduce demand charges. Many property owners complement this peak-shaving capability with solar panels. 

This reduction in peak demand is a win-win for the consumer and for the utility. The consumer saves on fees. Meanwhile, if enough consumers limit their peak demand, the utility can reduce selected investments. These are investments in transmission and distribution upgrades or additional capacity for periods of high usage.

Net energy metering

The electric utility is required to purchase excess electricity generated by privately owned cogeneration systems. Such requirements, typically known as ‘net energy metering’, exist in multiple U.S. states. 

These requirements can significantly offset the cost of operating and maintaining a cogeneration system. These requirements also provide a great deal of flexibility in how such a system is used and designed.

Replacing an existing heating and cooling system

The price of natural gas is at an all-time low in many geographies. This creates an incentive to replace an old boiler running on heating oil, with a natural gas system. 

Where it is available, natural gas is a cleaner, cheaper fuel, which also does not need on site storage. If that old boiler is going to be replaced, why not a greater investment and enjoy the energy savings of a cogeneration system for many years? 

Conversely, some facilities need to generate electricity on-site in a continuous or semi-continuous manner. In these cases, why not add a heat recovery component and enjoy free heating and hot water? Many industrial sites located in countries and regions with an unreliable electric grid have made this choice. In either case, the economics of cogeneration can often beat the economics of the standalone heating or on-site generation investment. 

Moreover, weather related events cause an increasing number of disruptions to the electrical utility. In these cases, having reliable on-site power, such as from a cogeneration system, is critical for safety and business continuity. 

In all cases, achieving the best financial results requires carefully considering each site’s individual energy profile. This includes energy usage, fuel costs, and electricity rate structure. It may also be worthwhile to consider complementary measures. These include installation of LED lights or additional insulation to optimize the site’s energy profile. 

When it comes to sizing, the objective is to maximize usage of the cogeneration system. It is usually more economical to have a cogeneration plant meet half of the site’s energy needs 24/7. This is in comparison to an attempt to cater for all the site’s needs but only run the plant half of the time. 

In many applications across industry, commerce, and the public sector, cogeneration is a sensible economic choice. Whether the project pays for itself in two, three or five years depends on the specifics of each individual application.

Energy security and resiliency benefits of cogeneration

Many electric utilities are keen to promote the adoption of cogeneration by ratepayers. It may seem counterintuitive that for-profit corporations encourage their customers to purchase less, but it makes sense. 

Utilities are happy to sell more electricity overall; meanwhile, they are anxious to limit the peak electric load they support. Think of the height of summer when every house has an air conditioning unit running at full blast. The electricity infrastructure needs to accommodate that peak load, even if it occurs just a few days per year. Customers with on-site cogeneration can effectively shave off their peak demand, reducing their impact on the grid and increasing the overall resiliency of the electricity infrastructure.

Cogeneration plants provide electricity and heat far more efficiently than traditional power plants. As a result they provide significant cost savings as well as a reduced environmental footprint. Using typical numbers provided by the US DOE, it takes a cogeneration power plant 100 units of fuel to provide 35 units of useful of electricity and 50 units of usefuel heat. Providing the same useful amounts would require a total of 165 units of fuel shared between a central power plant and an on-site boiler (of furnace). Cogeneration thus requires 40% less energy to achieve the same results.
Cogeneration plants provide electricity and heat far more efficiently than traditional power plants. As a result they provide significant cost savings as well as a reduced environmental footprint. Using typical numbers provided by the US DOE, it takes a cogeneration power plant 100 units of fuel to provide 35 units of useful of electricity and 50 units of use fuel heat. Providing the same useful amounts would require a total of 165 units of fuel shared between a central power plant and an on-site boiler (of furnace). Cogeneration thus requires 40% less energy to achieve the same results.

Governments tend to encourage the deployment of cogeneration technology for a similar reason, particularly in countries with limited energy resources. In such places, beyond environmental benefits, reducing energy usage and energy imports can be a strategic objective. Cogeneration systems help reduce a nation’s energy requirement. Moreover, when run locally using by-product fuels, cogeneration systems help achieve a better utilization of domestic energy resources. 

Interested to learn more about cogeneration? You might also like: 

The advantages of cogeneration are clear across a wide range of applications and power output requirements. Moreover, there are three situations that maximize these advantages of cogeneration applications. As a tried and tested technology, there is low-risk and high-return for suitable projects. 

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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.

What are power-to-x and e-fuels?

As more businesses focus on reducing their environmental footprint, the interest in alternative fuels, power-to-x, and e-fuels continues to rise. Today, many varieties of e-fuels are used in power generation applications and beyond. 

Let’s start with basics around power-to-x and e-fuels. 

What is power-to-x?

“Power-to-x” refers to a series of techniques and pathways allowing to convert, store and utilize renewable electrical energy. Power-to-x is specifically applicable when there is an excess of renewable electricity produced from solar or wind resources. Rather than be wasted—the specific industry term for this is “curtailed”—the excess electricity is used productively. The “x” can refer to a variety of energy carriers or uses. Power-to-hydrogen is the generation of hydrogen using renewable electricity. Power-to-power refers to storing electricity in batteries. Power-to-heat consists of using electricity to heat a home or a business, typically coupled with a heat accumulator. The meaning of power-to-methane should be easy to guess.

What are e-fuels?

E-fuels are fuels that are synthetized using renewable electricity, often using inorganic feedstock. They’re the “x” of power-to-x when “x” is a fuel. E-fuels include liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons such as methane and various gasoline-like, diesel-like fuels, alcohols such as ethanol and methanol, and non-carbon fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia. 

Green hydrogen is combined with CO2 from a power plant to produce e-methane. The e-methane is then piped to consumers.
Green hydrogen is combined with CO2 from a power plant to produce e-methane. The e-methane is then piped to consumers.

Why do we need e-fuels and power-to-x?

Power-to-x system allow to decouple electricity generation and electricity demand. At each instant, the total amount of electricity generated on an electricity grid must precisely match the total amount of electricity used by consumers. In other words, generation and demand are normally closely coupled. If generation is unable to keep up with demand, for example if too many power-plants trip at the same time, the electric grid can quickly collapse. Counterintuitively, the same is true if generation exceeds demand. When large quantities of variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar are online, renewable generation can rapidly exceed demand. When this occurs, renewable resources get curtailed to avoid collapsing the system. 

In some markets, the spot price of electricity can, as a result, become negative when renewable generation is high. This means that market participants get paid to use more electricity. 

Power-to-x projects take advantage of excess and off-peak renewable power to produce something useful. It’s a win-win situation—power-to-x producers can buy cheap renewable CO2-free electricity and solar and wind farms get to sell electricity that would otherwise have been lost. 

E-fuels produced at a power-to-x project can be used hours, weeks or months later to produce electricity. 

E-hydrogen, for example, can be used in a business equipped with a fuel cell and solar panels to make electricity during the evening and night. Business can use this setup to reduce demand fees charged by the electric utility to consumers with a high peak demand. 

At the grid level, e-hydrogen can be stored seasonally. The city of Los Angeles, Californina (U.S.) for example, is sponsoring a large power-to-hydrogen-to-power project in Utah. The project will create hydrogen using electricity from nearby wind and solar resources. During summer, the hydrogen will be stored underground in a geological formation. During winter, the hydrogen will be used to generate electricity, which will then be transported directly to Los Angeles via an existing high voltage transmission line.

For electricity consumers, e-hydrogen are a way to reduce their carbon footprint beyond what can be achieved with solar arrays and wind turbines alone. For utility companies and grid system operators, e-hydrogen is especially valuable, because it is one of the few CO2-free ways to balance out intermittent variable renewable energy resources.

The benefits of using e-fuels are not limited to the power generation application. They can be used in vehicles and other industrial sectors to great advantage. Forklifts running on e-hydrogen are one e-fuel application that has become popular in the logistics sector, and e-hydrogen forklifts check several boxes. They have little downtime. They don’t generate any fumes or exhaust, and in an enclosed environment like a warehouse, this feature is important. And, they’re CO2-free.

Beyond e-hydrogen, liquid e-fuels have a different process to be produced, which is more complicated. These liquid e-fuels are especially useful to power up heavy-duty applications such as marine applications. 

For applications where hydrogen is not a practical option, several alternative e-fuels can be synthesized using hydrogen. Here are some of the main ones:

What is e-methanol?

Methanol is a commodity product used on a large scale in the chemical industry to produce a variety of substances. Methanol is sometimes known as wood alcohol, and has long been used as a fuel in specialty vehicles such as RC aircraft, dirt bikes, and, yes, monster trucks. Several processes have been developed to synthesize methanol using CO2, hydrogen, and renewable electricity. Their product is a clean, carbon-neutral energy carrier—e-methanol. There is growing interest in using methanol as a marine fuel. Methanol and e-methanol could help tugboats, fishing boats, ferries and other vessels using specially modified engines to meet increasingly strict regulations limiting emissions of NOx and sulfur in densely populated coastal areas, and, in the case of e-methanol, also decrease their carbon footprint.

What is e-methane?

Methane, the main constituent of natural gas, is a widely used fossil fuel. In the United States, methane is the number one energy source used in power generation. Methane and natural gas are also increasingly popular fuels for motor vehicles. A power-to-methane system combines an e-hydrogen production process with CO2 to produce carbon-neutral e-methane. Several e-methane production processes are being developed and industrialized. Outside of power generation, the mining sector has shown a great deal of interest in these processes. For mines located in remote areas, the cost of trucking in gasoline or diesel can be prohibitively high. These mines can potentially save a lot of money by fueling their heavy hauler trucks with e-methane on-site, using renewable electricity generated locally.

What is e-diesel?

Companies and research institutions around the world are developing processes to mass produce liquid hydrocarbons from CO2, and water using e-hydrogen. The production of synthetic gasoline, jet fuel and diesel is envisioned. One advantage of these e-fuels is they can be used as a drop-in fuel in standard engines, making CO2-neutral operation possible without needing any modification to the vehicles or fueling infrastructure. 

What is e-ammonia?

Ammonia is another very common chemical. The fertilizer industry uses it in vast quantities, and it has seen occasional use as a fuel in specific situations. Belgium, for example, converted city buses to run on ammonia during World War II (the buses were scrapped as soon as fossil fuels became available again). 

In the 1960s NASA flew the X-15 rocket-powered aircraft using ammonia as fuel. Producing ammonia from hydrogen is a well-established process. Ammonia, or e-ammonia, could thus be produced industrially without any CO2 emissions in a power-to-hydrogen-to-ammonia system. E-ammonia is seen as a potential alternative to hydrogen, being easier to store and transport. Like hydrogen, ammonia can be used in specially designed fuel cells, internal combustion engines and gas turbines without releasing any emissions.

E-fuels show promise, but all must still overcome challenges preventing their widespread adoption. In almost all cases, production costs are the main issue. Outside of certain specific use cases, there are often other low CO2 alternatives available that e-fuels must compete with. Biofuels and electric batteries have a head start in that regard, having been on the market longer. 

Infrastructure costs are another challenge, particularly in the case of the non-hydrocarbon e-fuels. Fewer ships can adopt methanol if methanol is not widely available at ports. Costs, however, will come down as e-fuel technology matures and production scales increase. To make a parallel, the cost of lithium-ion batteries (the type used in electric vehicles and most stationary energy storage) has fallen by 98% in the past 30 years. If e-fuels experience a fraction of that progression, it will not be long before you can find them at your local gas station.

In addition to e-fuels, don’t forget to check out what the low-carbon fuels are, and the benefits of alternative fuels and fuel-flexibility.

Power-to-x, e-fuels, and your business

You are likely already centering your frame of thinking on the needs of your business, and asking yourself how these different alternative fuels can play a role to fulfill your needs.

In addition to the fuel itself, consider taking local availability, regulations, and your use case into account too. These additional factors compliment the unique benefits each alternative fuel offers.

These additional factors are also locally driven. If you are interested in having a discussion specific to your business, we recommend you reach out to a local partner with deeper understanding of your business and needs.

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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.

Environmental and financial benefits of Cummins’ EPA Tier 2 to Tier 4 engine conversion solution

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been aggressively reducing diesel engine emissions over the last 25 years, and Cummins Inc. has committed to developing the technology to meet these requirements. These regulations have been embraced within the oil & gas industry, as the sector continues the journey to reduce its environmental impact. 

The EPA’s latest Tier 4 final emission regulations applicable for oil and gas industry represent a significant step towards further reducing nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). For example, the Cummins QSK50 Tier 4 for well-servicing produces 45% less nitrous oxides and 80% less particulate matter than its EPA Tier 2 predecessor.

If you are an oilfield service company with an existing fleet of Cummins QSK50 Tier 2 engines, the path to Tier 4 emissions is simpler than you might think. You can transition the Tier 2 engines within your fleet to Tier 4 and enjoy the environmental benefits in an economical way. 

You can simply utilize the Tier 2 to Tier 4 conversion solution on your existing Cummins QSK50 Tier 2 engines at the time of rebuild instead of replacing and scrapping your current engines.

Let’s look at the environmental and economic benefits of converting your Tier 2 engines to certified Tier 4 engines.

Reducing the engine emissions with Tier 4 compliant technology in oil and gas applications

Reducing engine emissions with Tier 4 in oil and gas applications

Tier 4 final emission standards, in comparison to Tier 3 and Tier 2, represent a significant step towards reducing nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), key ingredients found in smog. Whether you use the Tier 2 to Tier 4 conversion solution or use brand new Tier 4 engines, your business will still materialize the benefits on engine emission reduction.

Reducing oil and gas sector’s environmental impact beyond engine emissions

Beyond the reduced engine emissions, there is another important environmental benefit of applying the Tier 2 to Tier 4 conversion solution on your Cummins QSK50 engines: reducing scrap metal and equipment. 
The conversion allows you to extend the use of your existing engine and frac rig. For example, you can sustain the longevity of your engine core and save the one or two overhaul lives left in your Tier 2 engines while meeting your emissions goals.

This environmental benefit could be bigger than you think. Scrap metal, when not recycled, fills up the landfills. In the U.S. alone, over 50 million tons of steel is scrapped a year. While 80% to 90% of this gets recycled, the rest accumulates within the landfills. The accumulation of scrap metal in landfills could pollute the nearby soil and water supplies. Scrap metals also create an increased need for mining minerals that can then be refined to metals. This mining and refining is an energy-intensive process.

Lowering the capital expenditures of oilfield service companies

If you already have Cummins Tier 2 engines within your well-servicing equipment, there are two ways to make the transition to Tier 4 engines. 

The first option is to purchase a new Cummins QSK50 Tier 4 engine which offers the same reliability and durability demonstrated by the Cummins QSK50 Tier 2. This is because the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) aftertreatment technology allows Cummins to use the known QSK50 platform while still achieving the lowest diesel emissions in the market. If you opt to go this route, the equipment transition is easy due to the similar footprint and low heat rejection of this certified engine.

Another more economical option, if you have Cummins QSK50 Tier 2 engines, is to upfit to Tier 4 content at the time of rebuild. These conversions are performed at Cummins Master Rebuild Centers by trained and certified technicians.

There are three ways the Tier 2 to Tier 4 conversions can lower your capital expenditures (CapEx).

  1. Lowering the CapEx on new frac rigs. You can extend the life of existing fleets by refurbishing them and utilizing the engine conversion offering. 
  2. Lowering the CapEx on new engines. You get the latest emission certified engines, without the cost of buying a new engine.
  3. Lowering the CapEx on cooling packages. The SCR aftertreatment technology used to achieve Tier 4 emissions allows the engine systems to maintain a low heat rejection which removes the need to invest in a new cooling package for your equipment. 

Generating more revenue using your existing engines and equipment

If you are participating in time-sensitive bids that call for Tier 4 equipment, the longer lead times associated with a new engine purchase could mean lost revenue if your upgraded equipment won’t be ready in time. 

With a Tier 2 to Tier 4 conversion solution, the time to upgrade your equipment could be reduced. And with shorter lead times comes your business’ ability to participate in near term bids. 

You can achieve and generate more revenue from your oil and gas equipment with these reduced lead times. 

Decreasing the capital expenditures, helping your business generate more revenue, and reducing your business’ environmental impact. These are the three key benefits of the Tier 2 to Tier 4 conversion solution for Cummins QSK50 engines used in oil and gas applications. 

Interested in more oil and gas perspectives? You might also like: 

To learn more about oil and gas power solutions Cummins offers, visit our webpage.

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.

What is a dual fuel engine, and its benefits for oil and gas applications?

What is a dual fuel engine, and its benefits for oil and gas applications?

The stone age did not end because the world ran out of stones, and the oil age will not end because we run out of oil1. Instead the oil age will end as we (communities, companies, and governments) speed up the energy transition towards our final destination: 100% renewable energy. 

In this energy transition journey there are giant steps we all celebrate, such as the increased use of green hydrogen in rail applications. There are also incremental steps – those that are towards the right direction, those that challenge the status-quo and those that bring us closer to our end goal. 

Use of dual fuel engines is one of these incremental steps, and is the right immediate next step for the oil and gas industry to reduce its environmental footprint and improve its financial performance. The industry is already utilizing technologies ranging from microgrids to ultra-low emission engines in this journey, and dual fuel engines are the right addition to this portfolio.

Dual fuel engine technology has proven itself over the years in drilling and well servicing applications. Given the increased interest in these dual fuel solutions, this article outlines what dual fuel engines are and their benefits in oil and gas applications. 

What is a dual fuel engine and how does it work?

Engines that can operate using a mixture of two different fuels are called dual fuel engines. Frequently, diesel and natural gas fuels are used together within dual fuel engines. Often, dual fuel engines that mix diesel and natural gas can also operate using diesel fuel only if the natural gas is temporarily unavailable. 

Beyond natural gas and diesel, some dual fuel engines can also use varying mixtures of biodiesel, landfill gas, bio-gas and other fuels. 

Are all dual fuel engines the same? 

They are not; the differences among duel fuel engines are far beyond "tomayto" and "tomahto"

While the working principles of dual fuel engines are the same, those that operate dual fuel engines experience remarkable differences in total cost of ownership (TCO) and uptime. Things like natural gas substitution rate, quality of the natural gas, emissions produced, and equipment reliability can all effect operational efficiency.

Substitution rate is a key word associated with dual fuel engines. Substitution rate is the portion of fuel energy provided by natural gas. When comparing dual fuel engines, there are two important considerations regarding substitution rates:

  1. Load factor: It is important to compare substitution rates of different engines at the same load factor, which is where your engines usually operate. Strictly comparing ‘maximum’ substitution rates of different engines could mislead you, and prevent you from maximizing the benefits of dual fuel engines.
  2. Diesel fuel consumption: Consider evaluating the diesel fuel consumption rates of the engines while comparing substitution rates. If an engine delivers better diesel fuel economy, then that engine starts the substitution rate comparison with an important advantage. 

Check out how dual fuel engines work to learn more.

Benefits of dual fuel engines in oil and gas applications

Within oil and gas applications, drilling and well-servicing operations are where you could commonly see dual fuel engines powering equipment. This is due to the financial and environmental benefits drilling and well-servicing contractors experience with dual fuel engines. Let’s look at these benefits of dual fuel engines in oil and gas applications.

Dual fuel engines reduce the environmental impact of oil and gas operation

Natural gas is often dubbed as ‘the bridge to the renewable future’ in electricity generation markets. In fact, 40% of utility-scale electricity generated in the U.S. comes from natural gas. The rest is evenly distributed among coal, nuclear power and renewables. 

Environmental considerations are a key reason many businesses, including drilling and well-servicing operators, choose natural gas over other fossil fuels,” said Patricio Escobar, Oil and Gas Market Segment General Manager, Cummins Inc. “Those that choose to replace diesel with natural gas experience several critical environmental and operational benefits.”

Here are three of these environmental considerations.

  • Reduced diesel fuel refining and transportation: Diesel fuel goes through a long journey to get from the wellhead to your fuel tank. By using the available on-site gas in your dual fuel engines, you also reduce the need for those operations to process and deliver diesel fuel to your site. This, in turn, reduces the associated environmental impacts of transportation and refining.
  • Reduced flaring: Another key environmental advantage achieved through the use of on-site natural gas, is the reduction of flaring. The excess natural gas burned through flaring can be redeployed to power the dual fuel engines on a well site. 
  • Less equipment to scrap and send to landfills: A dual fuel kit, instead of brand new dual fuel engines, also allows you to extend the utilization of your existing engines. With a solution that converts an existing diesel engine to a dual fuel engine, you are avoiding scrapping of the older engines. This results in less equipment to scrap, thus less equipment to send to landfills. 

Dual fuel engines deliver financial savings through reduced diesel fuel consumption

Fuel cost is one of the primary expense line items for drilling and well-servicing operations. Dual fuel engines bring financial savings in the form of reduced operating expenses (OpEx). 

Here is how reduced operating expenses come to life. 

  • Substituting the diesel fuel with natural gas fuel: As mentioned previously, diesel fuel goes through a longer journey in reaching the engines on a well site. This journey includes oil production, oil transportation, diesel production at a refinery, storage, transportation, and delivery to the pump truck. All these steps within diesel’s journey come with additional costs. Meanwhile, natural gas produced at the wellhead can be processed on location and delivered to the engines. Using available on-site natural gas instead of diesel, results in operational savings for drilling and well-servicing contractors.
Benefits of dual fuel engines in oil and gas applications

Dual fuel engines operate with diesel-like performance

Historically, one key reason diesel engines have been the top choice among oil and gas applications has been their solid performance. Diesel engines are known for their longevity and diesel fuel offers very high power density. These are still very much accurate. Meanwhile, natural gas engines have changed over the years too. Let’s look at engine performance from three aspects: 

  • Power density: Power density is an engine’s power output per unit of engine volume. For example, for large displacement engines, you would often see larger natural gas engines deliver power output comparable to smaller diesel engines. In other words, diesel engines have higher power density than natural-gas only engines. Meanwhile, there are also diesel engines upfitted for dual fuel applications. This combined with the electronic controls within the engine allows a dual fuel engine to feature diesel-like power density while operating in dual fuel model.
  • Transient response: Transient response performance is an engine’s ability to respond to varying power demands of the operation. Many oil and gas applications require transient response capabilities that 100% natural gas engines often have trouble accommodating. Meanwhile, selected dual fuel engines can offer comparable transient performance with their diesel-only alternatives.
  • Optimized operating range: Engines often run at a standard duty cycle per the application they are used in. Applying a new technology, like dual fuel, can sometimes require changes to that operating pattern to achieve the maximum fuel savings. This issue gets resolved when the dual fuel engine is optimized to ensure the maximum substitution rate (the portion of fuel energy provided by natural gas) is achieved in the ideal operating range required by oil and gas applications.

If you already have engines ready to be upfitted, dual fuel kits will save you money

Many oil and gas applications already use engines that are ready to be upfitted using dual fuel kits. This is a great starting point, because you can now save money and help the environment by choosing a dual fuel kit over a new dual fuel engine.

  • Financial benefits: The dual fuel kit costs less than buying a new engine and requires minimal changes to the existing engine, resulting in reduced equipment integration efforts. This reduces the total capital required to upgrade your fleet and achieve operating and sustainability goals.

Interested in more oil and gas perspectives? You might also like: 

To learn more about oil and gas power solutions, visit our webpage.

1The Economist (Jul 24, 1999). Fuel cells meet big business [Article]. 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.

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