What is the hydrogen rainbow?

Perhaps you’ve heard of blue hydrogen, green hydrogen, or even pink hydrogen, but what do these multi-hued descriptors actually mean? The colors that make up the hydrogen rainbow tell us a lot about how each specific kind of hydrogen is produced and the effects it can have on our planet.

Hydrogen might be the most abundant element in the universe, but it doesn’t exist on its own. Instead, it is produced through a number of processes that each yield different types of energy, which come with their own sets of benefits, byproducts and uses. The production method is what gives each kind of hydrogen its colorful moniker — though there is no universal naming convention, so definitions can change over time and vary between countries.

Let’s break down the current hydrogen color code and take a look at how one hue of hydrogen, in particular, is leading scientists and manufacturers to the pot of gold — a zero-emission future — at the end of the hydrogen rainbow.

Grey hydrogen

Grey hydrogen is created from natural gas, most commonly methane, through a process called steam methane reformation. While it is currently the most common form of hydrogen production, the greenhouse gases made in the process aren’t captured. 

Blue hydrogen

Blue hydrogen relies on the conventional process of steam methane reforming, but the carbon dioxide produced as a byproduct is captured and sequestered underground.  It is a source of clean hydrogen with a low carbon content. 

Turquoise hydrogen

One of the newer colors to join the hydrogen spectrum, turquoise hydrogen is produced via a process called methane pyrolysis. Its primary outputs are hydrogen and solid carbon. While turquoise hydrogen has no proven impact at scale yet, it has potential as a low-emission solution if scientists can find ways to power the thermal process with renewable energy and properly use or store the carbon byproduct. 

Pink hydrogen

Pink hydrogen taps into nuclear energy to fuel the electrolysis required to produce it. The high temperatures of the nuclear reactors provide an additional benefit — the extreme heat produces steam that can be used for electrolysis or fossil gas-based steam methane reforming in other forms of hydrogen production.

Brown/black hydrogen

If green and blue hydrogen hold the key to cleaner hydrogen production, brown or black hydrogen are the exact opposite and the most environmentally damaging. Relying on gasification of coal to produce hydrogen, this process releases harmful carbon emissions that can have a long-lasting impact on our climate

Green hydrogen

Amidst the hydrogen rainbow, green hydrogen is the only variety produced with zero harmful greenhouse gas emissions. It is created using renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydropower to electrolyze water. The resulting reaction produces only hydrogen and oxygen, meaning zero carbon dioxide is emitted in the process.

While the benefits of green hydrogen are significant, its production is more expensive today. Consequently, green hydrogen makes up just a small percentage of current hydrogen production. But as new advances and innovations in green hydrogen are made, the price will come down, and it will hopefully become common across the globe.

The future of hydrogen is green

Hydrogen has been used as fuel for more than two centuries. Today, thousands of vehicles and machines around the world are powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The emphasis on reducing carbon emissions and working towards a greener, sustainable future has shifted the focus of many power leaders, including Cummins, to investment and innovation in green hydrogen production. It could prove to be the gold at the end of the hydrogen rainbow.

The cost of production has slowed the wide-scale adoption of hydrogen power. Many leaders in the power industry are now putting an emphasis on making hydrogen fuel cells more readily available to consumers. Cummins is building on our industry-leading electrolyzer technology to reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells and make it easier to get green power solutions into our customers’ hands. 

Green hydrogen isn’t just taking center stage in the private sector, either. Governments around the world are putting forth hydrogen strategies and passing legislation to encourage the production and use of these green technologies. 

The exciting possibilities of green hydrogen are guiding innovation for Cummins and other power leaders, but the idea of a zero-emission future can’t rest solely on green hydrogen. We’re leveraging all of our alternative power technologies to further global decarbonization and provide the right solutions at the right time to our customers seeking sustainability.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Comparing emission reductions across alternative fuels

hand adjusting button to be set to low emissions

Vehicle greenhouse gas emissions can be accounted for on a “tank-to-wheels” basis or on a “well-to-wheels” basis. The former only considers the emissions that come out of a vehicle’s tailpipe. The latter includes the emissions that were released as a result of the production, processing and distribution of the fuel. For some alternative fuels, how they are made is more important than what happens when they are burnt.

Diesel engines versus modern diesel engines

Burning one liter of diesel produces 2.62 kg of CO₂, or over 26 lbs per gallon. In addition, diesel exhaust includes nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, soot, and other air pollutants. All are known to be harmful to human health and have the potential to reduce air quality. Like other fossil fuels, diesel is part of the man-made climate change problem. 

Diesel will never be a truly low carbon fuel, but diesel vehicles have come a long way from where they were thirty years ago. Modern diesel engines are more fuel efficient and contribute less to global warming and to air pollution than older engines. Replacing an old diesel engine with a newer model has a positive impact on the environment. Modern engines also come with sophisticated aftertreatment systems that thoroughly scrub their exhaust from pollutants such as NOx and particulate matter. Diesel particulate filters (DPF), for example, are designed to remove soot from the exhaust of diesel engines. There are opportunities to lower engine emissions through a combination of the use of alternative fuels and advanced engine technologies. There are many real-life examples of companies that are already successfully using alternative fuels and advanced engine technologies to decarbonize their buildings and industrial mobility.

Renewable diesel, a carbon-neutral fuel

Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), or ‘renewable diesel’ is a renewable fuel made from crops such as soy and rapeseed, and from animal fats. HVO is said to be a CO₂-neutral fuel, as the CO₂ that the plant HVO is made from captures, is released back into the atmosphere when HVO is burned.  After factoring in the emissions associated with the processing, transportation and distribution of HVO, well-to-wheels emissions are about 70% lower than diesel. Similarly, particulate matter (PM) emissions of HVO are typically lower than traditional diesel too. Meanwhile, emissions of criteria pollutants, such as NOx, are comparable to those of diesel.

Biodiesel usage emits less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Biodiesel, like HVO, is manufactured from plants and other organic matter and is therefore a low carbon intensity fuel. Biodiesel is primarily used in diesel blends. For example, B20 blends, which contain 20% of biodiesel, result in roughly 20% less well-to-wheel GHG emissions than pure diesel. Using biodiesel and HVO in different blends provides users a great deal of flexibility in dialing up or down CO₂ emissions based on their objectives and on their budget.

Natural gas emissions compared to diesel emissions

Natural gas is a fossil fuel and its use results in greenhouse gas emissions. The well-to-wheels emissions of a natural gas vehicle, expressed in pounds per mile driven, are equivalent or slightly smaller than the emissions of a comparable diesel vehicle. Crucially, natural gas vehicles tend to have extremely low emissions of criteria pollutant such as NOx and particulate matter. This is one of the reasons why natural gas is a popular choice for heavy-duty vehicles that operate in urban environments such as garbage trucks, buses, and delivery trucks.

Renewable natural gas, another example of a carbon-neutral fuel

Chemically, renewable natural gas (RNG) and natural gas are identical. RNG, however, comes from the fermentation of organic matter. As a result, it is a CO₂-neutral fuel—just like HVO and biodiesel. Sometimes, RNG can qualify as a CO₂-negative fuel. One example is RNG obtained from landfills. Landfills tend to release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, due to naturally occurring fermentation. Recovering that methane and using it as a fuel prevents it from being released into the atmosphere. This means that the use of that fuel results in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Green hydrogen releases very small amounts of well-to-wheels emissions

Though all hydrogen molecules are identical, hydrogen is said to come in a variety of colors. Green hydrogen is made by electrolysis using renewable electricity. (The hydrogen palette also includes gray hydrogen, blue hydrogen and turquoise hydrogen, among others). Those colors refer to production pathways with intermediate decarbonization outcomes. When green hydrogen is used in a fuel cell vehicle, the only exhaust is water vapor. When it is used in an internal combustion engine vehicle, some NOx emissions also occur (and trace amounts of CO₂, resulting from engine oil burning). In both cases, well-to-wheels emissions are extremely small.

Hydrogen and natural gas blends – the impact of proportions on emissions

Blending green hydrogen into a natural gas pipeline is sometimes seen as a solution to the problem of transporting the hydrogen from its production site to consumers. In terms of reducing carbon emissions, blending hydrogen into a natural gas pipeline has the same kind of effect as blending renewable natural gas—the greater the content of the renewable fuel, the greater the reduction. High proportions of hydrogen can, however, affect end users whose equipment is not necessarily tuned for hydrogen blends. This can result in the equipment to underperform and derate, or to get damaged.

Methanol – is it a carbon-neutral fuel?

One way to produce renewable methanol is to combine green hydrogen and CO₂ captured from other sources. Methanol can also be obtained from the fermentation of organic matter—similar to the way that ethanol, or alcohol, results from the fermentation of sugars. When methanol is burned in an engine, the CO₂ originating from its production source is returned to the atmosphere. The result is thus CO₂-neutral. Engines that run on methanol release virtually no soot, no sulfur oxides, and when combined with the right technology, relatively small quantities of NOx. 

Ammonia burns CO₂-free

Ammonia is another energy carrier derived from hydrogen. Unlike methanol, ammonia molecules contain no carbon atoms and thus burn entirely CO₂-free. Most applications where the direct use of ammonia is already taking place are industrial processes, such as the manufacture of fertilizer or explosives, but there is also some potential for ammonia as a shipping fuel. Its use in a marine engine would release no soot and CO₂, and the NOx released can be mitigated with aftertreatment.

Emissions are a key criterion to consider when choosing the right alternative fuel, but other advantages and disadvantages of alternative fuels should be taken into account. It is also important to note that the state of adoption among the alternative fuels can vary.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

5 fast facts to know about LFP batteries

green battery

The lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery is breaking barriers in the electric vehicle (EV) market. It is poised to redefine battery manufacturing and EV sales in North America and Europe. It’s powerful, lightweight, and fast charging...but the LFP is actually nothing new. 

1. An LFP is a lithium-ion battery.

The resurgence of the LFP battery and its role in the future of e-mobility leads many to beg the question: Which battery chemistry is best for electric vehicles, lithium iron phosphate or lithium-ion?
 
Because lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries are a rechargeable battery type that most people are likely familiar with, it seems like the logical selection. They’re used in many everyday items, like mobile phones, laptops and electric vehicles driving on the road today. But when discussing the pros and cons of each EV battery, it isn’t a contest between LFP and Li-Ion batteries. 
 
The Li-Ion battery family contains different battery chemistries named after their cathode; LFP is part of that family. And while an LFP is a Li-Ion battery, not all Li-Ions are LFPs. Other lithium-ion batteries include the nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) battery and the lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxides (NCA) battery. Both are already utilized heavily in electric vehicles. 

2. The “F” in LFP stands for iron.

Batteries are typically named after the chemicals used in the cathode, and an LFP battery uses a cathode material made from the inorganic compound lithium iron phosphate, with the formula LiFePO4. The “F” comes from “Fe,” the periodic table of elements chemical symbol for iron. Fe is derived from the Latin word for iron, ferrum. You may also see an LFP referred to as a lithium ferro phosphate battery.

3. LFPs can be charged to 100%.

Keeping an electric vehicle battery healthy is necessary if your EV wants to live a long, happy life. If your EV has an NMC or NCA battery, one of the easiest ways to do so is NOT charging the battery to 100% every today. This prevents accelerated calendar aging, the natural aging of a battery that will occur whether it is in use or not. Charging an NMC or NCA to 100% puts the batteries in an extreme state of charge. Because batteries turn chemical energy into electricity, a battery is inherently unstable when fully charged. Overall, it is considered best practice to avoid a very high and meager charge, with 80% being the standard battery capacity for an optimal lifetime.
 
However, LFP batteries are an exception to this charging standard. LFPs have 100% of their capacity available, meaning they can be fully charged without causing accelerated battery degradation. This is thanks to the battery’s cathode. 
 
The phosphorus-oxygen bond in the LFP cathode is stronger than the metal-oxygen bond in other cathode materials. This bond hinders the release of oxygen and requires more energy and a higher on-set temperature for thermal runaway. This makes the battery more stable for being stored at full charge.

4. LFPs are a lower-cost option.

Electric vehicles are popular, and the demand for more companies to switch from internal combustion engines to batteries continues to increase. However, even as demand rises, building an EV still costs more than traditional diesel engines due to battery manufacturing.
Manufacturing NMC and NCA batteries require nickel and cobalt, two materials that come at a pretty penny to extract. The cost of buying both materials is expensive already. Still, the increasing nickel shortage and cobalt production being stretched to its limits pose a challenge to manufacturing NMC and NCA batteries and making them affordable for integration into EVs. 
 
LFP batteries, on the other hand, currently bypass supply chain issues and inflated prices because nickel and cobalt aren’t needed for the cathode. An LFP’s cathode is made from earth-abundant materials. Lithium iron phosphate is a crystalline compound that belongs to the olivine mineral family. Because the olivine family is a primary component of the Earth’s upper mantle, LFP is more readily available for extraction at a lower cost. 

5. 17% of the global EV market is powered by LFPs. 

Lithium iron phosphate batteries first came to light in 1996, so it’s not surprising this battery chemistry is already present in the electric vehicle market. Discovered by John Bannister Goodenough’s research group at the University of Texas, LFP batteries gained recognition for their wide range of benefits. Even with advantageous characteristics, LFPs didn’t experience their first large-scale adoption until 10 years later, when they became the industry favorite for electronics.

LFP technology has improved over the years, and it can now be found in a broader range of applications, from motorcycles and solar devices to electric cars. Seventeen percent of the global EV market is already powered by LFPs, but this battery chemistry is poised to make its next big breakthrough with large-scale adoption in different on-highway applications like electric buses and electric trucks. LFPs are less energy dense, come with lower manufacturing costs and are easier to produce than other Li-Ion and lead-acid battery types.

The warnings of a lithium supply shortage threaten to cut the global EV sales forecast in 2030, but even that hasn’t appeared to slow the momentum of adopting LFP batteries into electric vehicles. LFP battery chemistry remains easier to produce and at a lower cost. Their efficient charging, lower cost of ownership, non-toxicity, long cycle life and excellent safety characteristics make them a crowd favorite for the future of electric transportation.
 

Katherine de Guia

Communications Specialist - New Power

Pros and cons of different fuels in your decarbonization journey

gears on a green background

Diesel is the fuel of choice for a range of products including generator sets and engines used in marine, rail and construction and mining equipment, but there are alternatives. With concerns about the climate rising, businesses, shareholders and lawmakers are looking at replacement options for diesel in vehicles and power generation applications. Emission reductions across alternative fuels should also be considered when making a selection.

Diesel – why has it been popular and what has changed?

Diesel has been the fuel of choice for decades, with good reason. It is relatively cheap, widely available and performs well. Diesel engines just keep on going, with little maintenance. Refueling is easy as the infrastructure has been in place a long time and is universally available. However, diesel is a fossil fuel made from crude oil and, when burned, releases greenhouse gases.

Tailpipe emissions also include NOx and particulates, which can negatively affect air quality. As such, regulations on the use of diesel are tightening in countries around the world.

Renewable diesel, advantages and disadvantages 

Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), or ‘renewable diesel’, is made from vegetable oils and animal fats and oils. It can be used in select diesel engines without modification, and used as a ‘drop-in’ replacement for diesel, it performs equally well. Net CO₂ emissions for HVO are typically 70% lower than diesel, depending on how the fuel is produced and distributed, as the renewable feedstock seed to make HVO absorbs carbon when growing. Tailpipe emissions are also cleaner than those from diesel. HVO, however, remains more expensive than diesel, particularly where there are no government subsidies and incentives. Additionally, the use of HVO is limited by the availability of feedstock.

Biodiesel and a closer look at blends that can be advantageous

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made by esterifying fats such as vegetable oil, animal fats or used cooking oil – the same feedstock that can also be used to produce HVO. It is most often blended with diesel to reduce net CO₂ and other polluting emissions. Blends with varying proportions of biodiesel are available. B20 blends, which contain 20% of biodiesel is a common blend which advantageously balances cost and emissions, and can generally be used in engines with no modifications. Higher blends are less commonly used directly as a transportation fuel because they require engine modifications, can cause material compatibility issues, and present certain storage difficulties. 

Natural gas – why is it the most widely used alternative fuel?

Natural gas has been used as a fuel in vehicles for decades. Today it is the most widely used alternative fuel. Natural gas vehicles perform as well as diesel vehicles, but often with lower CO₂ and emissions such as NOx and particulates. Natural gas is either stored on board in liquid (LNG) or compressed (CNG) form. The choice depends on the infrastructure. In areas where natural gas infrastructure exists, or where it makes sense to install it, say, for a fleet of vehicles travelling in a local area, it can be a sound economic and environmental choice. 

Renewable natural gas usage in your decarbonization journey

Renewable natural gas is obtained from biogas, a methane-rich gas resulting from the fermentation of organic waste such as cow manure, sewage sludge or landfill organics. Renewable natural gas can allow engines to effectively reach carbon-neutrality. In some cases, such as when biogas is a by-product of naturally occurring fermentation and would be released into the atmosphere if not for its use as a fuel, renewable natural gas can even be a carbon-negative fuel. Adequately processed, renewable natural gas is nearly indistinguishable from natural gas. It can be used in any natural gas vehicles and in many industrial applications, such as power generation. 

Natural gas and hydrogen blends – benefits and challenges 

Green hydrogen can be blended with natural gas and injected into a natural gas pipeline. This automatically reduces the carbon intensity of all natural gas applications served by the pipeline. Using pipeline systems to distribute fuel blends that include hydrogen is not new and, for example, has been practiced for years on the island of Oahu in Hawaii (U.S.).

Gas utilities all over the world are assessing the feasibility of blending green hydrogen into their distribution systems. Various pilot schemes plan to introduce renewably produced hydrogen into natural gas pipelines, replacing up to 20% of natural gas content by volume in distribution systems. The advantage is an immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. However, higher concentrations of hydrogen are thought to bring multiple challenges in terms of the fuel’s effect on infrastructure and gas appliances.

Green hydrogen and why it could be the green energy carrier of the future 

Green hydrogen, or hydrogen made using renewable energy, may be the green energy carrier of the future. Green hydrogen can function as a source for both fuel cell electric vehicles and vehicles equipped with an internal combustion engine, specially modified for hydrogen. When powered by green hydrogen, a fuel cell coupled with an electric motor is often more efficient than an internal combustion engine running on gasoline.

Personal vehicles running on hydrogen have been available for years, yet have not received mainstream appeal. Meanwhile, with increasing renewable energy sources and the rolling out of hydrogen refueling stations, particularly in California (U.S.), hydrogen may make a lot more sense for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. This is why Cummins Inc. is currently developing a 15-liter and a 6.7-liter hydrogen engine.

Methanol; a fuel to be considered in your decarbonization journey  

Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a promising energy carrier that is today primarily derived from natural gas. Methanol is rarely made from green hydrogen today however this is predicted to change in the near future.  

Unlike hydrogen, methanol is a liquid at ambient temperature, making it easier to store and handle. It can be readily synthetized from hydrogen using well-known industrial processes. Methanol is a high-octane fuel which, in the right engine, can match the performance of a diesel fuel. It can be used in a variety of applications, including as a fuel for internal combustion engines. In fact, methanol is a performance fuel that has been used for decades in racing vehicles such as Indy cars and monster trucks. Primarily for safety reasons—methanol fires are easier to extinguish and burn without smoke.

Ammonia and green ammonia – how to they compare to other alternative fuels?

Like methanol, ammonia is another energy carrier that can be manufactured from green hydrogen. Being a liquid, it is easier to store and to transport by road, rail or vessel than gaseous hydrogen. However, it is toxic to humans, and creates NOx emissions during combustion, but advocates are confident these challenges can be managed with additional equipment and safety measures. 

Green ammonia is a promising substitute for ammonia obtained by traditional means in industrial applications such as manufacturing of fertilizer. Green ammonia can also be used to power internal combustion engines, although it is best suited for very large engines such as those used for marine propulsion. However, the supply chain for green ammonia is not yet sufficiently mature for widescale adoption. While ammonia is much easier to store than hydrogen, it has a significantly lower energy density than diesel fuel. This requires larger fuel tanks than a comparable diesel engine would use. It is important to remember that the state of adoption among alternative fuels can vary. 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

How do drivers experience natural gas engines ?

person driving semi

Natural gas is a great alternative fuel for clean vehicles. Its benefits are often advertised from the perspective of commercial fleet owners who enjoy significant cost savings, or from a broader environmental perspective. But what about driver’s perspectives? Read along to learn about the benefits of operating natural gas engines for drivers.

Natural gas engines run a cleaner and quieter operation

When we talk about clean vehicles we usually think of vehicles with low emissions. Natural gas vehicles certainly reduce your fleet’s emissions. They produce far less NOx and particulate matter than diesel vehicles. Modern natural gas vehicles emissions are 90% cleaner than current EPA standards.

Natural gas vehicles are also cleaner in the sense that they’re never going to cause a mess when fuel leaks or spills. Natural gas is lighter than air, so any amount of fuel leaking from onboard tanks or stationary storage vessels will quickly dissipate. This means that drivers and mechanics will never spill natural gas on themselves. They never go home smelling like diesel fuel. It also means that, for example in the event of an accident, there is no risk of pooling in or around the vehicles, thus significantly improving driver safety.

Perhaps the biggest quality of life improvement for drivers granted by natural gas engines is that they run considerably quieter than gasoline and diesel equivalents. Whilst idling, a natural gas engine can be ten decibels quieter than diesel and as quiet as a car on the go. For most drivers, working with a quieter and smoother engine is a lot less tiring.

Performance and productivity of natural gas engines

Natural gas vehicles can feel and perform similarly to diesel vehicles. Diesel has been the fuel of choice for heavy-duty vehicles since it provides the torque needed to pull heavy loads. Natural gas engines can be capable of pulling heavy loads, including on steep inclines. Natural gas drivers report not having to drop gears any more than they would if they were driving diesel vehicles.

Natural gas also provides significant benefits to drivers who work in cold weather conditions. Though natural gas vehicles are not immune to winter trouble, they don’t see the same issues that can ruin a truck driver’s day all over the Northern hemisphere. Diesel turns into a gelatin-like substance when temperatures drop below 17.5°F. Natural gas, in contrast, has a boiling point of -258°F so this will never be a concern even in the coldest winter conditions.

Natural gas vehicles also avoid problems related to the storage and handling of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF). DEF mostly consists of water. So, when it gets cold, DEF can freeze, causing problems. Drivers who fill their DEF tank to capacity, for example, can find themselves with a cracked tank when the DEF freezes and expands beyond the capacity of the tank—the same thing that happens when a can of soda is left in the freezer for too long. Natural gas vehicles don’t use DEF, so DEF problems don’t occur.

Drivers also like saving time when they use time-fill refueling stations. Fleet drivers operating diesel vehicles typically end their shift waiting for their turn at the fuel pump, and then wait some more while their tank fills before finally parking their vehicle for the night. With time-fill stations, natural gas drivers are able to refuel by simply pulling into a dedicated bay, connecting the hose and clocking off for the day—their vehicle’s natural gas cylinder then fills unattended. There is no need to wait around, making this an easy and quick process for the driver. There are additional details on how natural gas engines stack up against diesel.

Reliability of natural gas engines

Natural gas engines and liquid fuel engines use the same type of components and have the same architecture. In terms of reliability, natural gas engines are as good as any modern diesel engines.

So, are natural gas vehicles as reliable as diesel vehicles? Modern diesel vehicles need sophisticated aftertreatment system to comply with emissions regulations. Unfortunately, these systems need a lot of maintenance, and they don’t always perform as expected. Cold weather DEF problems are one example. Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) are another common source of trouble for diesel vehicles. DPFs filter out particulate matter but will, if not adequately cleaned or replaced, clog. Natural gas engines, in comparison, have very little NOx and soot in their exhaust and thus require no such aftertreatment systems. At most, a simple three-way catalyst may be used. Natural gas vehicles have less that can go wrong and less for the driver to worry about. When properly maintained, natural gas engines drive a million miles and keep going. Maintenance is one of the main considerations for fleet managers to keep in mind when transitioning to natural gas engines.

Are your drivers still not quite ready to give natural gas a shot? Let them hear testimonials from our customers’ drivers and that should clear out any doubt.

If natural gas engines are relevant to your needs, don’t forget to also check our answers to frequently asked questions about natural gas engines. These answers cover topics such as cost, practicality, and feasibility of integrating natural gas into commercial fleets.


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Puneet Singh Jhawar

Puneet Singh Jhawar

Puneet Singh Jhawar is the General Manager of the global natural gas business for Cummins Inc. In this role, he is responsible for the product vision, financial management and overall performance of the natural gas business. Over his 14-year career at Cummins, Jhawar has cultivated successful relationships with a number of Cummins’ largest customers. Jhawar has extensive global experience, with roles based in the Middle East, India, Europe and the US.

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