How do hydrogen engines work for off-highway applications?

combine harvesting food in field

The pressure on heavy industries to meet decarbonization goals is increasing. There are few suitable low-carbon alternatives for off-highway equipment. This includes excavators, wheel loaders, tractors and combines, among others. To meet the requirements of round-the-clock, high-energy usage in difficult environments, hydrogen internal combustion engines are a straightforward solution. 

Hydrogen internal combustion engines vs. hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen fuel cells and internal combustion engines are the two ways to power vehicles using hydrogen. Fuel cell electrical vehicles (FCEVs) transform hydrogen’s chemical energy into electrical energy using a fuel cell “stack.” The resulting electricity drives electric motors and batteries that act as a buffer. Hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICE) work in the same way as conventional combustion engines. They burn fuel to generate heat and mechanical energy. You can learn more about the complimentary benefits of FCEV and ICE technologies.

Why should off-highway applications consider hydrogen engines?

A major benefit of hydrogen combustion engines is that they are built on a familiar architecture. A hydrogen ICE can be installed in the same equipment as a diesel engine while also using the same transmission, cooling systems and hydraulic systems. Maintenance practices and costs are also comparable to diesel engines. The major difference to consider is the on-board hydrogen storage system, which Cummins has added to its technology portfolio with the Cummins and NPROXX joint venture.

Hydrogen internal combustion engines are appealing in off-highway applications. They operate in difficult environments with elevated levels of dust in the air, greater vibrations and extreme ambient temperatures. Hydrogen ICEs can also decarbonize off-highway work sites with their 99%+ reduction in carbon emissions as compared to diesel engine powered equipment. Additional benefits of hydrogen engines can be found in the mobility and transportation sector.

Which industries can benefit from hydrogen engines?

A hydrogen ICE will work in any application where diesel engines are used today. For that reason, a wide variety of off-highway use cases can benefit from hydrogen power.

Those who work in agriculture are familiar with the use of hydrogen in the production of ammonia fertilizer; however, they may not have considered what benefits hydrogen engines could bring to agricultural equipment. Hydrogen ICE can meet the demands of the most challenging applications. Hydrogen ICE is robust to extreme operating and environmental conditions witnessed in agriculture applications. Versatile has already taken the lead to plan the integration of Cummins 15-liter hydrogen engine into their tractors.

Industries that require high load factors and high equipment utilization face the biggest challenge in finding viable low-carbon and zero-carbon solutions. Electric vehicles may struggle under daily usage expectations and will experience extensive downtime to recharge. Hydrogen, on the other hand, is well suited for the diverse off-highway applications in the construction, agriculture and mining markets. Excavators, wheel loaders and other equipment can benefit from quick refueling times and diesel-like performance, durability and reliability of hydrogen ICE.

Cummins is planning to offer two hydrogen internal combustion engines, available in 6.7 and 15 liter variants. The engines are a part of Cummins’ new fuel agnostic platform, where below the head gasket each fuel type’s engine remains the same. Leveraging these platforms with low-carbon and zero-carbon fuel will help industries dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the decade. The platform commonality minimizes changes to the equipment design, ultimately reducing integration complexity for the equipment manufacturer. 

What infrastructure investment will facilitate hydrogen adoption? 

Fueling infrastructure is a critical element for off-highway applications. Hydrogen is well suited for easy distribution because it can be transported to the required location in the same way diesel fuel is today. Hydrogen has the added flexibility of local onsite production using an electrolyzer with renewable energy. Furthermore, existing natural gas infrastructure can be converted to transport hydrogen at a low cost. Investing in the hydrogen economy will contribute to growing the infrastructure needed to facilitate adoption. As an example of progress, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will offer tax credits for clean hydrogen production and hydrogen refueling stations in the United States. 

If you are interested in learning more about hydrogen engines, don’t forget to also check our answers to frequently asked questions about hydrogen engines. These answers cover topics such as the different hydrogen fuel options, emissions and feasibility of integrating natural gas into commercial fleets.


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Jim Nebergall

Jim Nebergall

Jim Nebergall is General Manager of the Hydrogen Engine Business at Cummins Inc. and leads the company’s global efforts in commercializing hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines. Hydrogen internal combustion engines are an important technology in the company’s accelerated path to decarbonization.    

Jim joined Cummins in 2002 and has held numerous leadership roles across the company. Most recently, Jim was the Director of Product Strategy and Management for the North American on-highway engine business. Jim is passionate about innovation and has dedicated his Cummins career to advancing technology that improves the environment. He pushed the boundaries of customer-focused innovation to position Cummins as the leading powertrain supplier of choice, managing a portfolio ranging from advanced diesel and natural gas to hybrid powertrains. 

Jim graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. In 2007, he completed his Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University.

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.

A-Z fuel types in your decarbonization journey

green water drop

You may have been reading about alternative fuels on this blog—or elsewhere. We know it can be confusing. So here is a handy glossary to help you remember the difference between diesel, renewable diesel, biodiesel, and other fuels. 

Ammonia in your decarbonization journey

Ammonia is a chemical used industrially on a large scale as a precursor to a variety of nitrogen-containing substances, such as fertilizers and explosives. It also has many other applications, ranging from being used as a glass cleaner, to a reagent used in flue gas scrubbing systems, to being used as a rocket fuel (the X-15, an experimental rocket-power aircraft, which still holds the speed record for a manned aircraft, ran on ammonia).

Ammonia has also seen some historical use as a motor fuel. During World War II, for example, the Belgian regional bus company converted some of its buses to run on ammonia due to the shortage of diesel fuel.

Green ammonia in your decarbonization journey

Almost all ammonia being manufactured today is obtained via a chemical reaction between hydrogen and nitrogen. Since most hydrogen used for this purpose is made from natural gas using a process that releases significant amounts of CO2, manufacturing of ammonia is CO2-intensive. If green hydrogen is used, however, ammonia can be made with no or minimal CO2 emissions. In other words, green ammonia can be made.

This is of interest for industries that are heavy users of ammonia. Fertilizer companies such as Spain’s Fertiberia, for example, are actively pursuing this strategy.

In the transportation sector, green ammonia is seen as an energy carrier that is easier to handle and store than green hydrogen. The shipping industry, in particular, has shown substantial interest in powering large ship engines with ammonia. A recent survey by Lloyd’s register indicates industry participants expect ammonia use in the shipping industry will significantly increase in the next 10 years.

In Japan, where utilities are looking for ways to keep their coal-power plants open, green ammonia is used as a partial substitute for coal in pilot projects. In the long term, supporters see green ammonia as a way to turn existing power plants into zero-emissions facilities by 2050.

Biodiesel in your decarbonization journey

Biodiesel is a renewable low-carbon intensity or carbon-neutral fuel made from fats such as vegetable oil, animal fats or used cooking oil through a chemical process known as transesterification. The oils can also be blended with diesel to reduce well-to-wheels CO2 and other polluting emissions. Blends with varying proportions of biodiesel are available. B20, containing 20% biodiesel, is a common blend which advantageously balances cost and emissions. It can be used in most engines with no modifications. Many Cummins Inc. diesel engines can run on B20, and the company plans to make its new engines compatible with an increasing range of biodiesel blends. Besides motor vehicles, biodiesels are used across a range of industries, from data centers to ships. 

Diesel in your decarbonization journey

Diesel is a fossil fuel obtained from oil. It is relatively cheap, widely available and performs well. Diesel engines are durable, reliable, and can provide all the torque needed for heavy-duty applications. The infrastructure needed to produce, transport and distribute diesel is universally available. Diesel, however, is not without drawbacks. Besides causing greenhouse gas emissions, diesel vehicles release nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, soot, and other pollutants. All of these cause air pollution and can be harmful to human health. Regulations on the use of diesel are therefore tightening in countries around the world. Diesel may lose some ground to alternative fuels, but it is not about to go away. Diesel engines have come a long way towards cleaning up their emissions. And while no aftertreatment system can truly scrub CO2 emissions from diesel engines, there are applications where it will make more sense to offset CO2 emissions somewhere else than to seek to directly decarbonize the application. The emission reductions capability of alternative fuels should be evaluated when making a selection.

Renewable diesel in your decarbonization journey

Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) or renewable diesel is made from vegetable fats and oils. It can be used in most diesel engines without modification, across all Cummins standby generator sets and many Cummins engines used for on-highway applications. Used as a drop-in replacement for diesel, it performs equally well. After factoring in the emissions associated with the processing, transportation and distribution, HVO well-to-wheels emissions are about 70% lower than those of diesel. 

The use of HVO is limited by the amount that can be made using existing production plants—about 550 million gallons per year in the United States. Multiple new plants are under construction, which should significantly expand the amount of HVO available and may lead to an increase in adoption. 
There are a range of examples of companies that are successfully using alternative fuels. Companies such as Microsoft, for example, have switched to HVO fuel for their Cummins-supplied generators that provide backup power to its data centers in Des Moines, Iowa (U.S.) and Phoenix, Arizona (U.S.).

Green hydrogen in your decarbonization journey

Green hydrogen, or hydrogen made using renewable energy, may very well be the green energy carrier of the future. Green hydrogen can fuel both fuel cell electric vehicles and vehicles equipped with an internal combustion engine specially modified for hydrogen. Hydrogen will make a lot of sense for heavy-duty commercial applications, which is why Cummins is currently developing a 15-liter and a 6.7-liter hydrogen engine. Cummins’ hydrogen fuel cells are already powering vehicles around the world—from buses and trucks to trains. Besides being manufactured using renewable energy, part of hydrogen’s appeal is that the main waste product of hydrogen combustion or fuel-cells is water, and although hydrogen fueled internal combustion engines will have NOx emissions, they can be reduced to very low levels.

Natural gas in your decarbonization journey

Natural gas has been used as a fuel in vehicles for decades and is the most widely used alternative fuel. It performs as well as diesel in vehicles, and in some cases lowers emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants such as NOx and particulate matter. Natural gas is therefore a popular choice for heavy vehicles that operate in urban environments, such as garbage trucks, buses and delivery trucks. 

Natural gas is also widely used in stationary applications. Natural gas, for example, can be used in highly efficient cogeneration systems providing electricity, heat, and, in some cases, cooling. Cummins has supplied equipment for numerous cogeneration systems, such as the system at Clark University, in Massachusetts (U.S.), where Cummins supplied a 2 MW QSV91G gas generator

Renewable natural gas 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. Adequately processed, renewable natural gas is nearly indistinguishable from natural gas. It can be used in any natural gas engine and in many industrial applications, such as power generation, giving up to a 97% reduction in CO₂, compared with diesel. Renewable natural gas is already emerging as a fuel for prime power generation in niche applications near to sources of renewable natural gas. Cummins carried out one such project in Delaware (U.S.) where landfill gas is used to power a combined heat and power (CHP) system to provide industrial customers with clean energy. 

Natural gas and hydrogen blends in your decarbonization journey

Green hydrogen can be blended with natural gas and injected into existing natural gas distribution systems. This automatically reduces the carbon intensity of all natural gas uses 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.). Various pilot schemes plan to replace up to 20% of natural gas by volume content in distribution systems and blending will be widespread in Europe over the next 10 years, with the U.S. not far behind. 

Methanol in your decarbonization journey

Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a promising energy carrier derived from hydrogen or from biomass. 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 versatile fuel that is being used in a variety of applications today including Indy cars and monster trucks. 

Several pilot projects designed to produce methanol from captured CO₂ and green hydrogen are up and running with more to come on-line in the next five years. The development of the process will be linked to the expansion of green hydrogen and CO₂ capture technologies.

When choosing an alternative fuel, it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative fuel and its state of adoption.

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.

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