ARB Certified State's First Compressed Natural Gas Bus
SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced today that it has certified the first alternative fueled engine for use in California, a compressed natural gas-powered engine that will be used in school buses.
That certification paves the way for the first mass production of alternative fueled vehicles in the state, a step forward from the experimental permits under which other, individual buses have been built.
The TecoDrive 7000 compressed natural gas-powered engine, built by Tecogen Inc. Of Waltham, Massachusetts, will be used in ten new school buses by some Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco Bay Area school districts, beginning in September 1991.
James Boyd, ARB executive officer said, "The Tecogen engine is the type of alternative fuel powered engine envisioned by the ARB when it adopted low emission vehicle standards during its public hearings held here in Los Angeles last September.
"These natural gas powered engines show that alternative fueled vehicles are not dreams of the future and not just experimental, but are available now to help clean California's air," he added.
Last September, the ARB adopted "ultra-clean" standards for California vehicles that are 50 to 85 percent less polluting than the strictest standards already adopted by ARB. The new standards will produce about 200,000 of the new "ultra-clean" cars, ten percent of the state's annual new car fleet, in 1994. Those standards have caused vehicle manufacturers and energy providers to design engines and fuel that act as a single system for the first time, and has forced them to consider alternative fuels as much of meeting those standards.
According to ARB data, the compressed natural gas (CNG) powered buses, which seat 66 students, emit less than one-third of the smog-forming hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions allowed by the ARB's tough emission limits. In addition, it requires three of these buses to match the nitrogen oxide output of one comparable gasoline powered engine.
Tecogen President and CEO Dr. Ravinder K. Sakhuja said, "The ARB's certification of our CNG engine allows us to take advantage of a cleaner-burning, domestically available fuel in light of growing regulatory pressure to significantly lower exhaust emissions in congested urban areas and the imperative need to reduce America's dependence upon imported oil."
Richard D. Farman, CEO of Southern California Gas said, "It is very fitting that we make this announcement at an elementary school. For what we are talking about today is our future, and nothing represents our future more than children. If we can make the environment of our children safer, especially while they are attending school, it is a worthy project."
The buses use a General Motors 427 cubic inch, V8 engine redesigned by Tecogen to operate solely on compressed natural gas. The engine uses many of the same internal components of the gasoline powered version to achieve nearly the same power output, compared to dual-fueled CNG conversions that are about 20 percent less powerful.
The ten Tecogen buses are being built through a $700,000 grant from the California Energy Commission. That grant is part of a larger $100 million California program established to replace over 463 school buses built before 1977 with new, cleaner running models. The clean fuel school bus program is sponsored by the California Energy Commission. The compressed natural gas fuel will be supplied by Southern California Gas Co., Pacific Gas and Electric and San Diego Gas and Electric Co.
The first 163 school buses, built at a cost of $20 million, are expected to be available for service by September 1991, and include 103 diesel powered models and 50 that use methanol in addition to the ten natural gas powered buses. An additional 300 buses, which may cost up to $40 million, are expected to be built later in 1991.
The buses will add to a growing fleet of compressed natural gas vehicles that already number over 30,000 experimental vehicles nationwide.
California, through the ARB, has certified conversion kits for existing gas or diesel powered engines. However, the Tecogen engine is the first production line model to be certified.