Cummins L9 Powers Forest Firefighting Fleet

by Cummins Europe,
Tatra forest fire truck in action
Tatra forest fire truck in action

4x4 all-terrain TATRA FORCE will provide rapid response capability in high fire risk areas of Germany

A fleet of TATRA FORCE T815-7 firefighting vehicles with 4x4 all-terrain capability, powered by the Cummins L9 engine, are being deployed in the pine forest areas of north-east Germany, where the intensity and frequency of fires has increased in recent years. The 8.9-litre engine rated at 400 hp (298 kW) provides an ideal power match for the T815-7 by offering premium power characteristics for rapid response, for both on and off-road operations.

The first of 46 firefighting vehicles arrived in early 2021 in the states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania to begin familiarization with volunteer fire brigades (Freiwillige Feuerwehr). Although specially equipped to suppress forest fires, the twin water jet capability of the T815-7 is ready to deal with all types of fire and rescue emergencies.

The high-power density of the Cummins L9 contributes to the remarkable 62 mph (100 km/hr) top speed of the 18-ton max. permissible weight T815-7. The impressive 1700 Nm peak torque is fully utilized by the TATRA all-wheel driveline to enhance mobility over rough ground and when climbing steep gradients, with the powertrain protected against excessive heat and aggressive environments.

The TATRA FORCE T815-7 cab accommodates the driver, plus two crew with tilting access to the engine. The chassis is integrated with an equipment superstructure built by THT, featuring two water jets providing all-round fire extinguishing cover. The high rotating turret on the vehicle roof is manually operated, while the low turret mounted on the front bumper is activated in-cab with camera viewing. The body features a 4600-litre tank for the water jets and a 150-litre tank for foam concentrate, with proportioning and pumping pressure driven by power-take-off from the L9.

Tatra forest fire truck in action

The vehicle is designed for operational self-sufficiency with an electrical generator, self-recovery winch, lighting mast, and it carries all necessary rescue equipment. Both the TATRA chassis-cab and THT superstructure are manufactured in the Czech Republic with the L9 engine meeting Euro VI very low emissions standards, supplied from the Cummins Darlington Plant in the UK. The L9 engine uniquely combines the robust, heavy-duty performance of a higher displacement engine together with the efficiency and lower operating costs of a smaller, midrange engine.

“The new fleet of TATRA FORCE vehicles is set to bring exceptional firefighting capability to forested areas where numerous and widespread wildfires have occurred in recent years. We are delighted that Cummins power will play an important role with the community Volunteer Fire Brigades in the frontline of suppression,” said Josef Ksir, Cummins Engine Sales Manager, Czech Republic.

“We have worked very closely with TATRA to fully optimize the Euro VI engine installation and seamlessly integrate the engine management system into the vehicle controls. The driving performance results are impressive, and we anticipate that this may lead to the L9 engine being utilized in the larger 6x6 and 8x8 versions of the TATRA FORCE firefighter,” added Ksir.

SuperTruck II team reaches never achieved before 55% brake thermal efficiency

DOE Cummins SuperTruck II

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) recently recognized the Cummins SuperTruck II team for pioneering research and development in heavy-duty diesel engine technology. This honor, which was presented to the team during the DoE’s Annual Merit Review Conference, celebrates their achievement of 55% brake thermal efficiency (BTE) from an engine equipped with waste heat recovery, an important metric in the SuperTruck II program. The conference was held on June 21.

"Getting to 55% BTE was about optimally moving the needle in many areas. The interactions among the engine subsystems complicated defining how to operate each of these subsystems to reach the optimum engine performance. Achieving the final objective occurred with careful hardware selection and a month of optimization of the engine and Waste Heat Recovery systems at the test cell," said Jon Dickson, Cummins Principal Investigator for the SuperTruck II initiative. "There were a lot of people at Cummins that came together to make this happen, who never gave up even when we were down to the wire, and I’m thrilled to accept this award in recognition of their perseverance."

Cummins has been part of the DoE’s SuperTruck initiative since it began in 2010 with the goal to improve heavy-duty truck freight efficiency. BTE quantifies the fraction of the fuel's chemical energy that is converted into useful work by the engine system, and acts as an important measurement of overall engine efficiency. As the SuperTruck II program progresses, the Cummins engine with 55% BTE will integrate into a Peterbilt truck to ultimately demonstrate improvement in freight efficiency.

"All of this invention did not happen solely during the SuperTruck II project—in fact, a lot of this work was set in motion with SuperTruck I," added Tim Shipp, Engine Performance Leader for the Cummins SuperTruck II team.

"The challenge of SuperTruck I allowed us those years to focus on improving efficiency, and Cummins hasn’t stopped pressing forward since then. Everything we have learned ties so closely together, and reaching 55% BTE is the culmination of all that focused activity."

More than 200 Cummins employees supported the core SuperTruck team of 25 innovators, who inched toward the 55% BTE goal with incremental changes and improvements until finally, on a cold evening in January, they reached their goal.

Mr. Shipp adds, "When it was game time during those last months, the pressure was on to find the technology to push us to the finish line. That is where the team’s persistence really came into play, but also the company’s commitment to innovation. Without a real desire to deliver on this experiment from the team and company leadership, we never would have gotten there." 

Cummins DOE SuperTruck I
Cummins and Peterbilt teamed together for SuperTruck I, pictured here, first demonstrating more than 50 percent BTE and analytically defining technologies needed to achieve 55 percent BTE. 

In his testimony to the United States Senate in March of this year, Cummins Vice Chairman Tony Satterthwaite confirmed the company’s commitment to developing the technologies of tomorrow, and the importance of industry and government partnerships such as SuperTruck. 

"The heavy-duty and non-road vehicle industry is undergoing significant change, and Cummins is leading the way by investing and innovating in a broad portfolio of power including advanced diesel, natural gas, hybridization, electrified power, fuel cell technology and alternative fuels –so our customers can have the right solution to get the job done," Satterthwaite said. "However, industry working alone will not get us where we need to be in a time frame that is feasible. Government supported innovation is needed to meet our global energy and environmental challenges." 

When the technologies developed under the SuperTruck I initiative hit the market, they are projected to save 7.9 million gallons of diesel fuel per day and reduce CO2 emissions by 33% from the 2009 baseline. SuperTruck II demonstrates a further 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, doubling efficiency. 

Daniel Mohr, System Integration Lead for the Cummins SuperTruck project, is excited to keep building on the team’s success. “We set out to meet aggressive engine-level targets, but we will not meet all our goals simply by increasing engine efficiency; we need to think about investigating the use of low carbon fuels-- hydrogen, natural gas, and alcohols. This is our next focus.”

Cummins’ quest for engine efficiency doesn’t end with 55% BTE.

"Greater engine efficiency is still feasible, and our work will continue toward that goal,” said Dickson. "While we are all thrilled to celebrate this SuperTruck II achievement, we will continue to push ourselves to meet the needs of our customers and our planet." 

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Catherine Morgenstern - Cummins Inc.

Catherine Morgenstern

Catherine Morgenstern is a Brand Journalist for Cummins, covering topics such as alternative propulsion, digitalization, manufacturing innovation, autonomy, sustainability, and workplace trends. She has more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications, holding leadership positions most recently within the Industrial Capital Goods sector.

Catherine began her career as a marketing writer for a biotechnology company, where she learned to take complicated and highly technical information and make it accessible to everyone. She believes the concept of “storytelling” is more than a trendy buzzword and loves to find ways for her readers to make personal connections to her subjects. Catherine has a passion for technology and innovation and how its intersection can make an impact in all our lives.

Catherine recently moved back to her hometown in the Hudson Valley, New York after a several decades in Los Angeles and Chicago. She is a graduate of UCLA and enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and three children.

California’s natural gas trucks went carbon negative in 2020

Cummins Renewable Natural Gas - California

Vehicles in California powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) removed more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emitted for the first time in 2020, a direct result of the continued drop in carbon intensity of renewable natural gas. 

Adoption of RNG in trucks, buses and other vehicles grew 25% across the state from 2019 to 2020, and RNG use is up more than 170% in the past five years, according to new data from California's Air Resources Board (CARB). 

Meanwhile, the carbon intensity of natural gas derived from renewable sources continues to drop. RNG is increasingly made using methane captured from agricultural waste, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. By capturing gases that may otherwise be released into the atmosphere, RNG can even deliver sub-zero carbon emissions. 

Ninety-two percent of all on-road fuel used in natural gas vehicles in California last year was renewable natural gas.  

"This verified data means California's trucks and buses leave a zero-carbon footprint while virtually eliminating criteria pollutant emissions that contribute to asthma, heart disease, and poor air quality,” said Dan Gage, President of NGVAmerica

In addition to their negative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, ultra-low NOx natural gas engines perform at levels that are 95 percent below the federal nitrogen oxide (NOx) standard and 98 percent below the federal particulate matter (PM 2.5) standard. 

According to NGVAmerica, RNG used as a motor fuel in California in 2020 displaced 1.83 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). To put those numbers into perspective, California RNG motor fuel use: 

  • lowered greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent amount generated by driving the average passenger car 4.6 billion miles
  • eliminated CO2 emissions, equal to 205.7 million gallons of gasoline consumed, or the energy use of 220,118 California homes in one year
  • sequestered the amount of carbon captured by 2.24 million acres of U.S. forests in one year 

The success of RNG in California is part of a broader trend happening across the United States. According to The Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, 53% of all on-road natural gas fuel used in 2020 was RNG. Increased availability in RNG has led large nationwide fleets like UPS and Amazon to make significant investments in the number of natural gas powered trucks in their fleet.  

Natural gas vehicles fit seamlessly into current transportation, people and goods movement models because they don’t require radical changes in vehicle technology, transportation infrastructure or support networks. 

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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.

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