Hydrogen, natural gas engines firmly in the sights of Seay Distribution

Seay truck

Two entirely new 15-litre internal combustion engines being developed by Cummins – one fueled with hydrogen, the other with natural gas – head the priority list of future products for New Zealand haulage business Seay Distribution.

Owner Bruce Seay’s interest in carbon reduction has heightened with his fleet set to play an integral role in the success of New Zealand's first large scale food waste-to-bioenergy facility at Reporoa, in the central North Island. 

“I’m not a greenie or climate activist but I am a believer in protecting our environment and decarbonization is an important part of that,” says Auckland-based Seay. “I also want to make sure my business is aligned in an environmental sense with my customers.”

Seay believes Cummins is “ahead of the game” in developing alternative powertrain technologies for the pathway to net zero-carbon by 2050.

“I’m very impressed with what Cummins is doing with its Destination Zero strategy,” he says. “It’s a huge comfort when you see one of your suppliers investing billions of dollars in developing future technologies and knowing confidently you’ll be supported by that supplier.

“To have a 15-litre internal combustion engine running on energy dense hydrogen and virtually eliminating CO2 emissions is certainly appealing,” he adds. 

“Of course, our plans for the future would only come to fruition if the infrastructure for hydrogen fueling was available. The government wants us to play our part in decarbonization and they must play their part too.”

He believes the 15-litre natural gas engine, due for release in 2024 with peak outputs of 500hp and 1850lb ft, also looks to have great potential in that it can be powered with biogas, the fuel produced by the new plant at Reporoa which is being fed with food waste by the Seay Distribution fleet. 

He notes that Cummins’ hydrogen and natural gas engines – designated X15H and X15N – were recently displayed at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, North America’s largest advanced transportation technology and clean fleet event, where they attracted a lot of attention.

Cummins X15 hydrogen engine
Cummins X15H hydrogen engine on the priority list for Seay Distribution

“Being able to refit existing trucks with either of these engines would be a definite bonus,” he asserts.

Bruce Seay’s immediate focus is on the new bioenergy plant at Reporoa in the Rotorua district, into which his expanding fleet has started transporting food waste. 

“This facility will help overcome the huge environmental problem with waste food that historically has been dumped in landfills, emitting methane which is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions,” he points out.

By mid-2023, the Seay fleet will be hauling around 120,000 tones of waste food a year from Auckland to the Reporoa facility, using nine 60-tonne Kenworth K200 truck-and-dog combinations, all powered by Cummins X15 engines rated at 600 hp.

The facility is turning organic waste, from businesses and kerbside food scrap collections, into sustainable renewable biogas to annually power the equivalent of around 2,500 households, produce bio-fertilizer for around 2,000 hectares of local farmland, and provide CO2 and heat to enhance the growth of tomatoes in the glasshouse owned by T&G Fresh, one of New Zealand’s largest fresh produce businesses.

Setting high environmental standards is not new to Bruce Seay. His father Hartley and brother Graham founded Seay Earthmovers in 1978 and also acquired a quarry in Taupo in 2004 which produces red scoria and various other forms of road and construction aggregates.

“The earthmoving and quarrying operations have always been mindful of environmental standards and regulations and have achieved recognition for protection of the environment in a number of challenging civil projects,” he says, with a definite tone of pride.

Those projects have included hydro-electric schemes, geothermal power station and steam field development, roading, landfill cells, subdivisions and forestry contracts. 

After working in the family earthmoving and quarrying businesses for a number of years, Bruce Seay founded his own company, Seay Distribution, in 2018, hauling quarry aggregates from Taupo to Auckland. He also had an established relationship with EcoStock Supplies, transporting recycled food waste for animal consumption. EcoStock is a joint venture partner in the Reporoa bioenergy facility.

He put his first two Kenworth's – T409 models with 600 hp Cummins ISXe5 engines – into service in 2014-15 and since then has forged an excellent relationship with Cummins and Kenworth dealer Southpac Trucks. “Both those trucks have clocked up 1.2 million kilometers without anything major having been done to them,” he points out.

His third Kenworth, a K200, started work in 2018. “We had an engine problem and the way I was supported by Cummins and Southpac was unbelievable. I’m not a big customer by any means but they had that truck back on the road in two days which was great turnaround.”

At the time of writing, three new K200 Kenworth's are about to go into service hauling the waste food for the Reporoa biogas plant and these will be followed by another three in mid-2023. 

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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.

Cummins Turbo Technologies gears up to launch the 8th Generation Holset Series 400 Variable Geometry Turbocharger

8th generation HE400VGT

As emission regulations become more stringent, Cummins Turbo Technologies (CTT) is committed to helping customers reduce emissions and advance fuel economy through innovative new air handling technologies.

Built on 70 years of innovation and dependability, CTT and Holset have introduced a wide range of industry leading air handling technologies. In 2021, CTT launched the 7th generation 400 series Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) to help engine manufacturers meet future emission standards and offer best in class fuel economy. At Cummins, innovation never stops as we continue to advance our current technologies, while developing new ones. With this philosophy in mind, CTT is now preparing to introduce the 8th generation HE400VGT. It is specifically engineered to have top of class performance, reliability and durability for the 10-15L heavy-duty truck market.  

CTT has made significant improvements in turbocharger performance with its latest generation of products. The 8th generation turbocharger will have 5 percent improved efficiency over the previous 7th generation turbo.

In addition to offering improved turbocharger efficiency, which helps customers in engine downsizing, the HE400VGT will have a better transient response, enhanced compressor side oil leak robustness and dual sourcing on key components for supply chain flexibility.

Key highlights of the Holset HE400VGT include a new bearing system and near zero clearances to enhance performance and transient response. These enhancements are achieved by tighter clearances on the compressor stage, lower radial movement on the turbine stage, improved surface finish and new aero designs.

Scheduled to be launched in 2024, this turbocharger incorporates a next generation smart electric actuator and speed sensor with the latest chipset to enhance performance and durability. The dual sourcing strategy helps mitigate any unforeseen electronics shortages that have recently plagued the industry.

Along with the performance enhancements, the latest generation turbocharger will offer best-in-class performance for on-highway heavy-duty trucks coupled with improved fuel economy at key vehicle running points.

“CTT has incorporated exciting new technologies in our latest HE400VGT to help engine customers meet strict emissions requirements and reduce their total cost of ownership,” said Matthew Franklin, Director – Product Management & Marketing. As customers establish their strategies for upcoming emission regulations, CTT continues to build on the success of previous turbocharger launches to deliver innovative products that meet the challenges of our customers’ engine development needs without compromising on performance. 

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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.

Rebuild masterstroke pays off for miners

belt buckle with text reading "Cummins 300th QSK60 MCRS Upgrade"

A masterstroke by Cummins engineers in Australia and the US has resulted in major cost reduction and environmental benefits for mining companies electing to rebuild their QSK60 engines under a special upgrade program.

The engineers focused on rebuild possibilities for the early generation QSK60, and how it could be upgraded to the latest diesel technology at overhaul time with no major change to the base 60-litre V16 design – a feat that eluded other engine manufacturers.

The key technology upgrade is to fuel injection, with the early unit injection system (HPI) replaced with the high-pressure modular common rail system (MCRS) that is now featured on all of Cummins’ latest generation high horsepower engines.

The 300th upgraded engine, rated at 2700 hp, recently rolled off the production line at the Cummins Master Rebuild Centre in Brisbane, highlighting yet another successful step in the evolution of the QSK60 and why it is the foremost high-horsepower diesel engine globally in mobile mining equipment.

“Reduced fuel consumption and longer life-to-overhaul are keys to lower total cost of ownership, and they were the initial aims behind the engineering of the upgrade program for the QSK60,” says Greg Field, mining business development manager for Cummins Asia Pacific.

“Innovation is at the core of Cummins’ long history, and it has certainly played its part in the QSK60 rebuild options we can offer our mining customers.”

The bottom line is impressive: Diesel particulate emissions are slashed by up to 63% through in-cylinder combustion technology with no aftertreatment. There’s also a plus for maintenance with less soot loading in the oil.

Fuel savings up to 5% are consistently reported in the field for significant greenhouse gas emissions reduction, while life-to-overhaul is extended by 10%, translating to fuel consumption of more than 4.0 million liters before rebuild is required.

Apart from the fuel system upgrade to MCRS, the QSK60 with single-stage turbocharging also features other Cummins innovations in combustion technology that were engineered for Tier 4 Final and Stage V emissions compliance, the most stringent off-highway emission standards in the world.

The rebuild upgrade package can be applied to the two variants of the QSK60 – one with single-stage turbocharging (known as ‘Advantage’) which can be rated from 1785 to 2700 hp, the other with two-stage turbocharging which can be rated at 2700, 2850 or 3000 hp.

The 300th upgraded QSK60 went to Boggabri Coal in the NSW Gunnedah Basin for installation in a Komatsu 930E haul truck. The engine has proved its worth in both coal and iron ore mining in Australia.

yellow QSK60 engine

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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.

The future of commercial transportation

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At the turn of the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th president of the U.S. and a few years later Henry Ford debuted the Model T in Detroit, Michigan. Only few visionaries at that time may have imagined a future with an intricate highway system, carrying people and goods from one coast to another in a matter of days. Or trolleys and streetcars becoming massive urban busses, running hundreds of people around a city center. It wasn’t until 1912 that the first transnational truck delivery was made—by a five-man crew travelling from Philadelphia to Petaluma, California, to deliver a load of olive oil soap in a record time of 91 days.

The future of commercial transportation

Since that soap was delivered, trucking grew into being the lifeblood of our economy, moving essential goods, medical supplies, and other items. It kept re-inventing itself through the great depression, the growth of air transportation, and the rise of globalization. As e-commerce soared, trucking has once again re-invented, becoming an integral part of our modern lives too. Through this journey, road transportation has seen the adoption of such technologies as collision mitigation, electrification, and lower carbon fuels. As the commercial transportation industry faces rapidly changing regulations and evolving customer needs, advanced technology will pave the way to not only meet these requirements but exceed what we previously thought was possible. Looking ahead, the future of commercial transportation will be shaped by three perspectives: a shifting energy mix, innovations in software, and evolving use cases driven by autonomous driving and vehicle-as-a-service (VaaS).

First will be the shifting energy mix and reduced carbon intensity

The story starts within our cities, where the need and benefit for decarbonization is the highest. Cities also offer two circumstances to spur decarbonization: a dense population of transportation assets that share a common infrastructure and the use-cases that are easier to decarbonize, such as last-mile delivery.

For commercial transportation, the future of energy can be summed up simply: zero carbon emissions, well-to-wheel. This is the destination, driven by societal pressure and environmental needs. This will require a shift in energy mix, and the journey to decarbonize commercial transportation will be rooted in a comprehensive technology roadmap with three primary components: zero emissions technologies such as battery electric and fuel cell electric; low to zero carbon fuels; and fuel agnostic powertrain platforms.

The 2020s will be shaped by two trends: those that will make the leap to zero, and the rise of low to zero carbon fuels. Busses that operate in urban areas are leading the sector in making the leap to zero carbon emission solutions, at the tail pipe. Transportation emissions will decrease by ~1.4% in the U.S. when the majority of buses switch to zero carbon emission technologies. There is another overlooked benefit of busses leading the way towards zero carbon emissions: fast-tracking innovations. As more of our bus partners choose zero-emission technologies, we find innovative solutions to meet their needs. These learnings ready zero carbon emission technologies for other transportation use-cases sooner. When it comes to the rise of low to zero carbon fuels, renewable natural gas, biodiesel blends, and hydrogen will lead the way, and internal combustion engine technology will see improved efficiencies. Meanwhile, we also plan to make our new engines compatible with increasing blends of low carbon fuels. During this era, hydrogen engines may also gain traction among line haul trucking. The key to hydrogen adoption will be the cost parity of hydrogen to diesel and infrastructure for refueling.

In the 2030s, we will begin to see a marked scale-up of new technologies and fuels. Battery-electric and fuel cell electric solutions will be viable for more use cases, especially with urban vehicles. Meanwhile, alternative fuels such as renewable natural gas (RNG), hydrogen, and biodiesel blends could have global footprints. At a regional level, varying local availability of different feedstocks will keep less popular low to zero carbon fuels in play. For bio-derived fuels, an interesting dynamic could play out during this decade. Given these limited stock bio-derived fuels could be the only viable path to decarbonize aviation, we could likely see a limited use of them in road transportation. The 2030s will also be the decade we will learn more about the viability of synthetic fuels for commercial transportation. Cost, availability, and efficiency of energy pathways will be three of the key factors to watch-out.

In the 2040s, electrification will become more viable even for today’s hard-to-electrify use cases. For example, heavy-duty and line-haul trucks are challenging to electrify today, mainly because the energy density of today’s batteries and limited recharging infrastructure would interfere with the truck’s job. This may become less and less of an obstacle as technology and infrastructure continue to advance. As the vehicle electrification eliminates tank-to-wheel emissions, well-to-tank emissions will get increasing spotlight. The good news is, by 2040, renewable electricity is forecasted to account for over 60% of our electricity1. To get there will take doubling the investments in electricity industry, as a share of GDP, towards $1.2 trillion a year by the second half of the 2020s, and strong public and private partnerships.


A safer, more reliable, and efficient transportation powered by software

The commercial transportation sector has already begun a rapid period of software development, helping fleets avoid accidents, optimize their fuel usage, and identify the best routes. Going forward, safety will continue to be paramount; meanwhile, connectivity and software development will revolutionize condition monitoring and performance optimization. This revolution will take place at three levels: asset-level, system-level, and intermodal.

In the near future, asset-level connectivity will continue to be under a spotlight. For example, Cummins Inc. is already testing game-changing prognostic algorithms that leverage massive amounts of data to move customers away from reactive service models to predictive, planned maintenance. The idea is this: sensors in the vehicle monitor the way equipment is performing and report abnormalities. This allows us to detect potential issues early enough that the necessary action can be taken, either through over-the-air updates or at the next scheduled maintenance, so unplanned downtime is reduced, increasing the availability and reliability of the equipment.

Soon, we will see an increased focus on system-level connectivity, where emphasis will expand to managing the complete fleet and system elements such as distribution centers and refueling stations. With this, we will see the sector continue to drive automated decision making through an increased reliance on harnessing real time data and computing capabilities.

Connectivity and software development to revolutionize commercial transportation in three levels

Finally, intermodal connectivity will connect different modes of transportation. This will create a commercial transportation eco-system where individual assets among different modes of transportation such as road, rail, sea, and air are connected and operate in harmony.

Evolving commercial transportation use-cases driven by autonomous driving and vehicle-as-a-service (VaaS)

One of the things common between autonomous trucking and VaaS is they may both drive an evolution among commercial transportation use-cases, but at different scales.

Autonomous trucking may have more profound impact on transportation, as more vehicles start to communicate with each other and with infrastructure elements such as traffic signals and depots. A key outcome of the rise of autonomous trucking could be the competitiveness of trucking against other modes of transportation such as rail. Autonomous trucking could also impact the financials of the industry; as these vehicles will be highly utilized, which could lead to shorter replenishment cycles and lower volumes of vehicles to own. As the safety considerations are getting addressed, this and the increasing focus on system-level connectivity will also continue to shape the role of the drivers in autonomous vehicles.

Vehicle-as-a-service, on the other hand, may have a limited impact in commercial transportation. VaaS, which mirrors the efficiency model used by Uber and Airbnb, primarily relies on under-utilized assets. Meanwhile, commercial transportation is inherently different from privately-owned cars and homes, where a wealth of these under-utilized assets exists. In commercial transportation, there is not a large reserve of under-utilized assets. Therefore, the impact of VaaS in commercial transportation could be limited to two areas. Firstly, fleets with under-utilized vehicles could see improved efficiencies with VaaS. Secondly, VaaS could also find traction with fleets where access to financial resources is limited. In these use cases, the increasing cost of vehicles, due to a combination of decarbonization, advanced connectivity and autonomous features, could make it more difficult for fleets to spend high capex upfront. For these fleets, VaaS could be the more economically-viable path forward. There may also be use-cases where a combination of VaaS and advanced autonomy (without a driver) could address chronic driver shortage issues. Meanwhile, for fleets where utilization rates are already very high and access to finances is not an issue, the impact of VaaS will be limited.

Commercial transportation is certainly in a period of rapid change, but the sector has always pushed hard to ensure it would meet the needs of society. Today, those needs are increasingly demanding, and technology will once again rise to the challenge.

References:

1 World Energy Outlook 2021 [PDF File]. International Energy Agency (2021). Retrieved from: https://www.iea.org/ 

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENT

Information provided in this article includes forward-looking statements, including statements regarding business forecasts, expectations, hopes, beliefs and intentions on strategies regarding the future. Actual future outcomes could differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements because of a number of factors. Readers and investors are urged to consider these factors carefully in evaluating the forward-looking statements and are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements made herein are made only as of the date of this article and Cummins undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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Srikanth Padmanabhan

Srikanth Padmanabhan

Srikanth Padmanabhan is Vice President and President of the Engine Business, the largest of Cummins’ four business segments. In this role, he pushes the boundaries of customer-focused innovation to position Cummins as the leading powertrain supplier of choice, with its portfolio ranging from diesel and natural gas to hybrid and electric powertrains. Read more about Srikanth's more than 30 years at Cummins.

Three key take-aways from ACT Expo 2022

Tom Linebarger presenting a PowerPoint

More than 8,600 people traveled to Long Beach, California to attend the recent Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo, North America’s largest advanced transportation technology and clean fleet event. Major retailers were in attendance looking to decarbonize their fleets, gaining insight into the latest developments, policies, and technologies in clean transportation solutions. 

ACT Expo Booth on display with engines and truck

This year’s ACT Expo featured the largest collection of clean vehicle and fuel solutions the industry has ever seen, with nearly 200 exhibitors on hand. If you couldn’t make it out to Long Beach this year, here are three key takeaways from the 2022 ACT Expo.

1. Hydrogen is a promising solution for the demanding requirements of heavy-duty trucking.

Hydrogen has a lot going for it, including a couple of possible powertrain options for the future: hydrogen fuel cells and internal combustion engines. Hydrogen is energy dense and, when produced with renewable electricity, it’s considered “green” and carbon free.

Hydrogen fuel cells are a zero-emissions solution with the flexibility, power and range that long-haul, heavy-duty trucks require. Compared to battery electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles also offer fast fueling and lighter weight – hydrogen tanks weigh thousands of pounds less than battery packs on electric trucks, which also cut into cargo capacity.

Internal combustion engines powered by H2, like the 15-liter X15H Cummins debuted in Long Beach, can use zero-carbon fuel at a lower initial price than a fuel-cell or battery-electric vehicle, with little modification to today's vehicles. Additionally, Cummins plans to release a 6.7-liter hydrogen engine that like the 15-liter, will be built on Cummins’ new fuel-agnostic platform where below the head gasket, each fuel type’s engine has largely similar components, and above the head gasket, each has different components for different fuel types.

While battery electric and fuel cell electric powertrains are key to achieving a net-zero future, the pairing of green hydrogen with the proven technology of internal combustion engines provides an important complement to future zero-emissions solutions. Put simply: these engines look like engines, they sound like engines and fit where engines normally fit.

Cummins also announced it will collaborate with Daimler Truck North America (DTNA, Portland, Ore., U.S.) to upfit and validate Freightliner Cascadia trucks with a Cummins fourth generation hydrogen fuel cell powertrain for use in North America. First units are slated to be available in 2024.

2. Natural gas is an immediate and cost-effective solution to achieve not only net-zero carbon operations, but negative carbon emissions.;

The California Natural Gas Vehicle Partnership (CNGVP) was in attendance to promote natural gas fuel technology and its immediate carbon-negative benefits. In 2021, approximately 98% of natural gas used for transportation in California came from methane emitted by renewable sources, including landfill waste, livestock manure, wastewater treatment plants, food and green waste, dead trees, and agricultural waste. Capturing and harnessing the methane emissions from these sources as a renewable fuel is the most immediate and effective step that can be taken to reduce GHG emissions, as reported by the world’s leading climate scientists during the COP26 summit in Scotland in November 2021.

Natural gas engines on display at ACT expo

There’s no trade off when it comes to performance, either. Cummins displayed its near-zero emissions X15N 15-liter natural gas engine for the North American freight transportation market, which offers reduced package size and weight compared to diesel, and power and torque curves almost identical to diesel. Designed as a solution for Class 8 freight trucks, the engine offers ratings up to 500 hp and 1,850 lb-ft of torque, enabling fleets to achieve powerful performance even in mountainous terrains. Typical tank packages on natural gas trucks allow for at least 750 miles of driving between refueling, which can be accomplished in only 15 minutes.

Trucks powered by Cummins’ X15N engine will have a lower total cost of operation (TCO) than their diesel counterparts. This engine will arrive in production in the U.S. in 2024

3. The decarbonization challenge in transportation is too great for a single solution.

If there was anything to be learned from walking the floor at this year’s expo, it is that there are many solutions along the path to zero, and incremental improvements can have big benefits. The challenge to achieve zero emissions in the commercial transportation industry is greater because of the significant diversity of applications, unlike passenger cars—and reaching net-zero emissions won’t be a “light switch” event. The industry needs multiple solutions to meet the needs of all on- and off-highway customers and all applications considering the variety of duty cycles and operating environments. Infrastructure investment, regulatory advancements, and customer requirements all drive the pace of transition.

Cummins is embracing the opportunity to be part of the solution to the problem of climate change by pursuing reductions of GHGs from both internal combustion engines and new technologies through its Destination Zero strategy. The commitment to net-zero emissions requires changes to Cummins’ products and the energy sources that power them, and this work requires collaboration and leadership from governments, utilities, and other industries. Because so many partners will influence these changes, Cummins employees around the world are working in their communities to move this important work forward.

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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.

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