Propane Autogas School Bus Success Translates to Commercial Fleets

The school bus industry is undeniably one of the most scrutinized transportation sectors. Between ensuring student health and safety and trying to balance a budget during cutbacks, difficult challenges abound for school transportation officials.

One way school districts across the country have met these challenges head on is by transitioning their school bus fleet to propane autogas, a safe and reliable energy source that has reduced harmful emissions and operational costs.

This has been especially important during the pandemic, where budgets and student health are under more careful watch than ever before. While this school year looks different than any that have come before it, propane autogas is still providing the low emissions and cost-effective benefits districts need. Even districts that have gone remote and are using propane autogas buses to deliver meals to students are realizing these benefits.

Generation Z drivers push for schools to teach with eco-conscious cars

Christian Hughes did not just want to learn to drive – he wanted to do so in a Tesla. So, when it came to getting his license, the high school student found a driving school that specialised in the sought-after electric cars.

As well as being a fan of the vehicles and their technology, he was attracted by their green credentials. “Every second you spend driving a gasoline car contributes to climate change,” says the 17-year-old from St Augustine, Florida, who passed his test this summer. He has since bought a Tesla with his father.

Hughes learned to drive at the Tesla Driving School, launched by All Florida Safety Institute in January. The driving school is one of a growing number offering lessons in hybrid or electric cars to eco-conscious Generation Z drivers.

Daimler to Put Fuel-Cell Electric Truck in Production During Second Half of Decade

Daimler Trucks showed off a Mercedes-Benz concept truck powered by fuel cells, with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (more than 600 miles), projecting customer trials starting in 2023, and outlined when its battery-electric eActros trucks are projected to be available, including a first look at a long-haul version.

In an event focusing on its technology strategy for the electrification of its vehicles, ranging from urban distribution to international long-haul transport, Daimler focused on the technology for hydrogen-based fuel-cell trucks for the long-haul transport segment.

The Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck, which had its world premiere as a concept vehicle, marks the beginning of fuel-cell drive, according to the company. Daimler Trucks plans to begin customer trials of the GenH2 Truck in 2023, with series production to start in the second half of the decade.

Fortistar Begins Construction on Noble Road Landfill RNG Project

Fortistar, a privately-owned investment firm, and Rumpke Waste & Recycling, a privately-owned residential and commercial waste and recycling firm, have begun construction on the Noble Road Landfill Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Project, a $33 million transportation decarbonization project in Shiloh, Ohio.

The project will extract and capture waste methane from the Noble Road landfill in Ohio and transform it into renewable natural gas (RNG). The RNG will be distributed through a key partner, Chesapeake Utilities Corp. affiliate Aspire Energy’s pipelines. The fuel will be dispensed in fueling stations for natural gas vehicles via Trustar Energy, a Fortistar portfolio company.

Like carbon dioxide, methane is a greenhouse gas (GHG) that contributes to climate change, but is 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas. The Noble Road Project will capture 20,323 tons of methane emissions per year and produce RNG. Instead of simply flaring or burning the methane, the naturally occurring gas will generate sustainable energy and jobs in the community. It will produce 6.9 million gallons of gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) per year, which is enough to fuel 725 biofuel trucks – displacing diesel fuel for those vehicles – and creating approximately 35 to 40 construction jobs and three permanent green operations jobs to ensure the ongoing production of this sustainable energy source.

The potential for renewable natural gas in truck fleets

The end goal for much of transportation is to “electrify everything.” But the reality is that today, when the market for heavy-duty electric trucks is still nascent, there are other cost-effective and low-emission fuel options that fleets that run big vehicles — such as garbage trucks or semi-trucks — are embracing.

An important one is renewable natural gas (RNG), biogas collected from sites that have decomposing organic matter, such as landfills, farms and wastewater treatment plants. RNG is interesting because, depending on the source, the fuel actually can be emissions-negative, meaning the collective project and fuel remove more greenhouse gases than they produce.

Why? Take a dairy farm, where cow waste is a significant contributor to the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. If a farm collects that cow waste biogas and turns it into fuel for a fleet, it’s not only slashing the emissions from its farm, it’s also contributing to the displacement of diesel or natural gas use in a truck fleet.

Cummins using hydrogen technology to enable renewable energy for public utilities

Global technology and power solutions leader Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) will provide its 5-megawatt PEM electrolyzer to enable renewable energy for the Douglas County Public Utility District (Douglas County PUD) in Washington state. The Cummins electrolyzer will be dedicated to producing hydrogen from renewable energy and will be the largest, as well as first of its kind in use by a public utility, in the United States.

Expected to be operational in 2021, the new renewable hydrogen facility allows the Douglas County PUD to manufacture commercial hydrogen using electrolysis to harvest hydrogen from water from Wells Dam on the Columbia River. The PEM electrolyzer system, which stands for proton exchange membrane, takes the excess renewable energy and through a chemical reaction splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen acts as an energy carrier and the oxygen is released into the air. The hydrogen can then be stored in a gas or liquid state to be used in a multitude of applications, including fuel cell electric mobility. The electrolyzer is powered by clean hydroelectricity, so the production of hydrogen does not generate any carbon emissions.

Revived Iowa ethanol plant would make RNG to meet demand in California

A German bioenergy company is preparing to produce corn ethanol and renewable natural gas at the site of a failed cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa.

Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie AG is building an anaerobic digester on the site that will annually convert up to 100,000 tons of corn stover — a crop leftover consisting of everything but the kernel — into a renewable fuel that can be fed into the nation’s natural gas pipeline system. Verbio hopes to begin production by fall of 2021.

The biogas, known as RNG, is more expensive to produce than conventional natural gas, but producers can turn a profit by selling credits to refineries and fuel suppliers in California, where a state low-carbon fuel standard requires annual reductions in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels.

Early Adopters of Heavy-Duty EVs

As more fleets look to medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles (EVs), they can benefit from the lessons learned by early adopters on the frontlines of EV deployments.

Over the last decade, OEMs and fleets have researched and tested electric technology, and in many scenarios, worked with utilities and funding agencies to deploy solutions that foster widespread adoption of EVs in commercial applications.

Working closely with industry leaders, Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA) has been fortunate to be on the frontlines of many of these cutting-edge projects, helping to navigate the challenges and opportunities of electrification. Along the way, we identified valuable lessons that could prove to hasten progress and see quicker return on investment for those transitioning to electric.

USDA seeks input on ‘ready to go’ innovations to meet AIA goals

The USDA announced on Sept. 10 it is seeking input on the most innovative technologies and practices that can be readily deployed across U.S. agriculture to meet the goals of the agency’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda.

The USDA unveiled the AIA in February. The initiative aims to increase agricultural production by 40 percent by 2050 while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture by 50 percent.

One component of the AIA focuses on renewable energy, including ethanol, biodiesel and biomass. In February, the USDA said it aims to increase biofuel feedstock production and biofuel production efficiency and competitiveness to achieve market-driven blend rates of E15 in 2030 and E30 in 2050. The agency also aims to achieve market-driven demand for biofuel and biodiesel.

Clean Cities Showcases Idle Reducing Tech to Lower Emissions

Reducing vehicle idling saves fuel and money and cuts harmful emissions. Small changes in idling time can lead to noticeable benefits, including fuel savings and a reduction in pollution and noise.

To highlight benefits and the technologies that enable them, Chicago Area Clean Cities is holding a webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 10 AM. Commercial and government fleet managers, industry professionals and the public are invited to attend.

“Idle reduction is a real fuel saver, and it decreases tailpipe emissions,” said John Walton, chair, Chicago Area Clean Cities. “It also can save your fleet money. It is a hot topic, and we’re inviting fleet managers, government officials, and anyone who manages vehicles to join us. We will provide real-world examples of how to do it.”