VIDEO: Discover how Kansas City's fleet-wide alternative fuel program uses natural gas and biodiesel.
Used with permission of the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicles Data Center. Original video available at: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/videos/14#14
Since the 1990s, Kansas City, Mo., has been incorporating compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles into its fleet. With sedans, pickup trucks, vans and buses, the city has more than 200 CNG vehicles in operation, and it has five city-owned CNG fueling stations. As vehicles are due for replacement, and as grant money becomes available, the city continues to purchase CNG cars and trucks to expand its alternative fuel fleet.
Although CNG has been used for light-duty vehicles for several years, it is a fairly recent option for heavy-duty trucks. In 2008, following a severe diesel fuel shortage in the region, which caused huge spikes in the city's fuel costs, Fleet Administrator Sam Swearngin began aggressively pursuing options for using CNG for heavy-duty trucks. "Heavy duty is where we need to be to take advantage of the price differential between diesel and CNG," Swearngin says. "And, you get more air quality benefits by changing out diesel to natural gas."
At the time, the city's heavy-duty truck dealer, Memphis, Tenn.-based Diamond International, did not have a CNG option. The dealer, however, began working with McKinney, Texas-based Emission Solutions, Inc. (ESI) to retrofit trucks with CNG fueling and exhaust systems to meet Kansas City's needs.
In June 2009, Kansas City received its first four CNG-retrofitted International trucks, and by early 2010, the city had 19 of the trucks in operation, replacing diesel trucks. Ten of the trucks are model IHC 7300, and nine are IHC 4300. Some are dump bodies equipped with snowplows and salt spreaders, and others are fitted with utility bodies for use by water and sewer crews. All have CNG tanks that hold the BTU-equivalent of 60 gallons of diesel fuel.
As new creations, the retrofitted trucks had some minor maintenance issues to resolve, but overall they have performed well for the city, which expects to keep them in operation for at least 12 years. In cold weather, they start up reliably because of the spark ignition, which is an advantage over trucks with diesel compression engines, Swearngin says.
Kansas City received $538,175 ($28,325 each truck) in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grants to help pay for the 19 trucks, which cost $1,680,019 in total. Also, the dealer passed along $20,000 per truck in tax credits.
In October, Navistar International announced a partnership with ESI to begin producing CNG heavy-duty trucks as part of company's regular lineup. Kansas City will receive the first 10 to be produced this year. Other agencies in the region can piggyback on the city's fleet contracts through the Mid-America Council of Public Purchasing, which is online at www.macpp.org/coop.html.
Project: CNG heavy-duty truck acquisition
Jurisdiction: Kansas City, Mo.
Agency: Fleet Department
Vendors: Memphis, Tenn.-based Diamond International; McKinney, Texas-based Emission Solutions, Inc.
Date completed: Early 2010
Cost: $1.68 million