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NGVAmerica Hosts NGV Stakeholders to Discuss Key Safety and Technical Issues

 

The NGVAmerica Technology & Development Committee held its quarterly meeting this past week in Washington, DC. The meeting was well attended by NGVAmerica members and guests, including representatives from the US Department of Transportation (DOT), US Department of Energy (DOE), and national laboratories. The meeting proved to be an excellent opportunity for industry and government to have open discussions of issues and opportunities that impact the natural gas vehicle industry.

The DOT brought participants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). NHTSA presented a historical perspective on Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standard (FMVSS) 304, Compressed Natural Gas Fuel Container Integrity, and ongoing activities within the Office of Defects and Investigations.

The historical perspective into FMVSS 304 showed that the standard was originally published with light duty vehicles in mind, and there are areas that could be updated, specifically the tank label information for inspection intervals.  The DOT is looking to the NGVAmerica Technology & Development Committee to provide data and propose a new inspection interval for FMVSSS 304 label requirements. The DOT also expressed an interest to continue partnering with NGVAmerica in incident investigations involving natural gas vehicles, as the Committee continues to be a resource for DOT. FMCSA informed the committee of new ‘out of service’ criteria for commercial motor vehicles, and recommended that the NGVAmerica Technology & Development Committee be a liaison with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

The DOE discussed upcoming funding opportunities and activities within DOE relating to natural gas vehicles.  This meeting was also an opportunity for NGVAmerica Technology & Development Committee members to learn about the work that many of the national laboratories are doing in the natural gas vehicle space—Sandia National Laboratory modeling indoor gas releases for maintenance facilities, National Renewable Energy Laboratory testing out of service CNG tanks, and Argonne National Laboratory developing tools to calculate greenhouse gas emissions of various conventional and alternative fuels. The DOE also informed the committee of current and upcoming funding opportunities for natural gas vehicles. The DOE appreciated the work of the committee and is interested in continuing to work together in the future.

Several committee members volunteered to be part of the recent collaboration effort with the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) to create a safety and best practice for fueling and maintaining natural gas refuse vehicles.  Committee members also had an open discussion on Research & Development (R&D) priorities for the NGV industry.  This open discussion resulted in a long list of opportunities to improve the value proposition for NGVs.  Next steps for the R&D Working Group is to prioritize these opportunities.

Committee members were also apprised of the numerous working group activities:

  • The NGVAmerica Emissions & Environmental Working Group shared their emission calculations and stated their next steps to develop a white paper describing the emission & environmental benefits of natural gas vehicles.
  • The Maintenance Facility Modification Working Group informed the committee of their recent proposals to the International Code Council and NFPA 30A, including next steps in the code development process.
  • The Cylinder End of Life Working group was provided an update from CSA Group on their best practice for defueling, decommissioning, and disposal of CNG tanks.
  • The Codes & Standards Working Group provided an update on several CSA, NFPA, SAE, and ISO documents.
  • The Gas Quality Working Group informed the committee of activities within ASTM and SAE.
  • The LNG Working Group offered strategies to integrate the committee’s work with new opportunities for LNG as a fuel in non-road applications, such as marine, rail and mining.