Alternative Fuels

Engine Technology

The use of alternative fuels can provide significant reductions in NOx and PM emissions, especially in heavy-duty diesel engines for on-road, off-road, and marine applications. Natural gas engines have shown significant promise, with the greatest benefit coming from heavy-duty diesel truck and bus replacement with new natural gas vehicles in urban areas. Hybrid electric technologies and the use of microturbines instead of ICEs have also shown promise for replacing higher polluting diesel engines. All of these options are worth pursuing for cleaner engine technologies and immediate emission reductions.

In order for alternative fuel heavy-duty engines to achieve commercial acceptance and market penetration, their performance, durability, and cost-effectiveness, in addition to emissions reduction, must be demonstrated to the end user. Future projects will support the development, demonstration, and certification of alternative fuel engines to broaden their application and availability. 

Emission Control Technologies

Although engine technology research is required to reduce the emissions at the combustion source, post-combustion cleanup methods are also needed to address the current installed base of on-road and off-road technologies. Existing diesel emissions can be greatly reduced with after-treatment controls such as Particulate Matter Traps (P-Traps) and catalysts, as well as lowering the sulfur content or using additives with diesel fuel. Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) fuels, formed from natural gas or other gas rather than petroleum feedstock, and emulsified diesel provide low-emission fuels for use in diesel engines. And as emissions from engines become lower and lower, the lubricant contributions to VOC and PM emissions become increasingly important.

Infrastructure and Fuel Production

The South Coast AQMD has a series of regulations (see fleet rules) and incentive programs (see implementation) intended to expedite the transition of gasoline-and-diesel-powered vehicles to those that operate on cleaner burning alternatives such as natural gas.

A key component to making this transition possible is the development of an infrastructure to produce and distribute clean fuels, including compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

To date, the South Coast AQMD has provided over $25 million in funding of cost-shared projects for installing CNG and LNG fueling stations and production facilities within the South Coast AQMD’s 4-county jurisdiction. The projects are funded primarily through the Clean Fuels Fund, or through funds distributed by the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Committee (MSRC). 

These funding programs are intended to “buy down” a portion of the initial capital cost of a new fueling station. Through these programs, commercial fuel vendors, as well as operators of public and private vehicle fleets, install natural gas fueling stations that are conveniently located throughout the region, and accessible to the general public.

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