Bolt-On H2 System Boosts Mileage, Cuts Emissions, Canadian Company Says
BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO - A small company that has been developing on-board electrolyzers since 1996 is marketing an add-on hydrogen generator whose output, injected into the diesel engines of large semitrailer trucks, significantly cuts fuel consumption and emissions.
Since its launch in early 2004, Canadian Hydrogen Energy Company Ltd.s (CHEC) latest Hydrogen Fuel Injection (HFI) system has been installed on what the company says are hundreds of vehicles: big 18-wheel semitrailer trucks, but also in smaller versions on school and transit buses, ambulances, boats, diesel gen-sets, motor homes and other vehicles typically in communities near here, east of Toronto.
The basic big-rig package consists of a 90 lb. metal box measuring 12x12x24 inches that houses the proprietary electrolyzer covered by U.S. and Canadian patents. Its driven by the trucks alternator, generating hydrogen and oxygen when the engine is running. Both gases are introduced into the intake manifold where they are mixed with the incoming air.
|CHECs Steve Gilchrist shows a heavy-duty HFI electrolyzer installed behind the rear wheel mudguard of a big-rig tractor.
The basic unit is designed for heavy duty trucks with engines ranging from 7.3 liter to 16 liter displacement. Last month, the company introduced a smaller model for passenger vehicles and light trucks for up to 7.3 liters displacement at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show for automotive specialty and performance equipment in Las Vegas.
Were now starting to move towards gasoline-powered SUVs, Steve Gilchrist, CHECs vice president for government affairs since early 2004, told H&FCL. Before joining the 55-employee company, Gilchrist was Ontarios first commissioner of alternative energy. In the late 1990s, Gilchrist was the provinces Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, according to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia.
The company is a member of Fuel Cells Canada and of the American Hydrogen Association as well as of other groups.
150 Fleets, Testimonials
Gilchrist wont say exactly how many units the company has sold - he says annual production capacity is around 18,000 units - but says the system has been installed in trucks operated by more than 150 fleets: Some have one truck, others have 50, as he put it. Among them is what he says is one of the largest American truck fleets which he wont identify. For competitive reasons, some of these companies dont want it to be known that they have installed these fuel savers, he explains.
Canadian Hydrogen Energy has posted a number of signed testimonials from nearby bus and truck operators on its website, praising the HFIs performance. Said one, by Denzil G. Raistrick, of Raistrick Investments, Inc., Corbyville, ON, A standard fill up was about 690-700 litres per trip, its now 570-580 litres. 6 x per week. This makes the lease payment of under (Can.) $500.00 a month pretty small.
In the United States, the typical price for the big-truck unit is $12,900, Gilchrist says. The small unit launched in Las Vegas runs typically about $3,900. The company is developing a mid-sized unit as well, Gilchrist says.
Says Gilchrist, here in Canada you wont find anybody in the trucking business spending less than 5,000 bucks a month on fuel per truck. We guarantee a minimum of 10% improvement in fuel economy.
Jim Harris, the leader of Canadas Green Party, in a March 16 article reviewing the implications of the Kyoto Agreement in a bi-monthly Canadian business technology magazine, Backbone, said CHECs technology is set to be a huge boon for the environment and for business. Imagine all long-haul trucks improving fuel efficiency by up to 30% - what would that do in terms of reducing carbon dioxide emissions?
Kansas Trucking Co. is Sold on System
CHECs flagship is Great Plains Trucking, of Salina, KS, a company operating some 60 trucks, 90% of which are expected to be outfitted with the hydrogen injection units. Initially, Great Plains installed HFI systems on four engines - two Caterpillars and two Cummins, company president Sherwin Fast told H&FCL. The company leases them at $350 a month, and the company is saving several hundred dollars a month on fuel costs. Theyre going to pay for themselves over a couple of years or so, Fast says. The engines run cooler, emissions are down, and they pull better, he explains.
|.......and a view of the components of the HFI electrolyzer inside its protective box.
For a used, well-maintained truck It takes about 4-6 weeks to clean out the engine before the HFI system becomes fully effective, Fast explains. One Caterpillar engine had about 400,000 miles on it, and the Cummins engines had only about 60,000 miles.
Great Plains has ordered 25 more HFIs which it hopes to get delivered this month, and it plans to buy another 25 later on, some of which it wants to install immediately on new trucks the company is ordering. Depending on extras, each rig runs around $100,000 and up.
Consumption of distilled water is about one gallon every 90 hours of operation or so, Fast said. Using distilled water is important because we dont want minerals to build up inside the unit, he explains. Running out of water before topping up doesnt hurt anything, but the drivers notice the difference, Fast adds.
On its website, CHEC cites research reports going back to 1974 from, among others, Californias Jet Propulsion Lab, the University of Birmingham and from a Chinese paper presented at a 1997 conference at the University of Calgary describing the benefits of adding small amounts of hydrogen to internal engine combustion.
Last year, a private California test laboratory that converts and emission-tests high-priced imports such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis, California Environmental Engineering, Santa Ana, carried out a proof of concept test of a Detroit 60 Series diesel engine equipped with the HFI system for CHEC, using low-sulfur (<15 ppm) fuel. Among its findings:
Hydrocarbons were reduced 9.1% to 0.0835 gm/hp-h compared to the baseline figure of 0.0919. Particulates were down 7% to 0.0133 gm/hp-h, carbon monoxide was reduced by 5.5% and NOx was down 4.7%.
We believe the test data verifies the viability of the technology and that more dramatic improvement could be achieved through system use with time, the report said. Additionally, a detailed study to more precisely establish an optimum fuel/air ratio with hydrogen/oxygen should be considered. This, in addition to ongoing changes being made by the Canadian Hydrogen Energy Company (Ltd), will provide a proven system to meet the more stringent regulations with respect to current and future energy and environmental demands.
Earlier, Gilchrist wrote, hydrogen fuel injection can serve as a bridge to the comprehensive hydrogen economy of the future.
Contact: CHEC, Steve Gilchrist, 1-800/550-4066; 905/697-7011; http://www.chechfi.ca/