AUG 2018


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NEWS 25 Agility Fuel Solutions, Salisbury, NC, US is done in Lincoln, production lines here are set up for flexibility and ease of switching between different products. Adelsberger details the day's product mix: "e number one line on the far left is set up for refuse trucks; the number two line is for behind-the- cab systems (similar to what is displayed in the lobby); and the number three line is side-mounted, or what we call rail-mounted." (Fig. 1, p. 22.) e process begins with carts that are used to transport the assembly as it is built up through the stations (Fig. 3, p. 24). Different metal parts are joined to form the system structure, and then a crane is used to place the large CNG cylinders. "We use many different cylinder sizes, depending on the type of vehicle and size of system being installed," says Adelsberger. e remaining system components are installed, and each completed unit is then tested. "We use nitrogen up to 4,000 psi [275 bar] to proof and leak test the system," he explains. "e operating pressure is 3,600 psi [250 bar]." Just forward of the assembly lines, along the front or northern long side of the building, is where the fuel management modules (FMMs) are assembled. ese comprise various tubes, valves and electronics. FMMs pass through their own quality checks and pressure testing station and are fed into the fuel system assembly lines once completed. To the right of the assembly lines is the installation area at the western end of the building, where completed CNG fuel systems are integrated into vehicles. Installation runs perpendicular to the assembly lines, with vehicles driving in from the side and exiting the front. Adelsberger explains that quite a bit of installation is done at customer facilities. "Once we finish building the system, we have several options: Ship out to the vehicle OEM factory for installation; ship to one of several third-party installers (such as Fontaine), located across from Volvo in Greensboro, NC; or do the installation here, in which case we fuel up the system and check it out." Although only one line operates now, there is room to add a second as the market grows. Ready for growth e outlook for growth is good. Currently, only 1.5-2% of heavy trucks produced globally are CNG vehicles. e Natural Gas Vehicle Association (NGVA) Europe forecasts a market share of 20-25% for heavy trucks and 30% for buses, while CNG market share in the US is aimed at 10%. However, Agility Fuel Solutions is adding to its portfolio. Although it has manufactured H 2 fuel systems for buses and trucks since 2002, it is now expanding this product line to include fuel systems based on larger-diameter Type IV cylinders for longer- range regional Class 8 trucking applications. One example is Toyota Motor North America's (TMNA, Plano, TX, US) Project Portal initiative, begun in 2017, which is designed to extend zero- emission H 2 -powered fuel cell technology into heavy-duty trucks by demonstrating their use at the Port of Los Angeles. In 2017, Agility launched its Powertrain Systems business unit, which now produces natural gas and propane engines, including the 488LPI, based on its patented liquid propane injection (LPI) technology. omas Built Buses has already signed on to use the technology in its school buses. Agility also announced this year a partnership with Romeo Power Technology (Vernon, CA, US) to make high-performance, modular battery packs for commercial vehicles. "Whether it's CNG, H 2 or electric vehicle technology, commer- cial vehicles must carry a significant amount of stored energy onboard without excessive weight," says Silio. "Our composites and systems exper- tise help us to provide a lower total cost of ownership than a diesel vehicle. As a result, we're seeing increased interest in our advanced clean vehicle technologies in North America, Europe and, starting last year, in India." Dawes reit- erates the importance of CFRP composites in this advance. "We share technology leadership and a collaborative R&D relationship with Hexagon, including a jointly funded composites center of excel- lence in Lincoln. As an example of their continued advancements in accurate, high-performance parts at high-volumes, he cites the Hexagon liquid propane gas (LPG) Type IV tank line that has produced more than 12 million pressure vessels on a fully auto- mated, no-touch line (see Learn More). "ere are still a lot of steel cylinders out there and an opportu- nity for CFRP to replace steel in more established CNG markets, as well as capitalize on new markets like hydrogen," says Silio. He acknowledges that at the individual cylinder level, CFRP is more expensive when compared to steel, "but you can create more efficiency at the systems level with composites by using fewer, larger, sometimes higher-pressure vessels. is enables a solution that's cost-effective at the level of a complete system, with much less weight. is is a good composites story but to make it work in the marketplace you have to not only be able to make the cylinders at scale, you have to make it easy for vehicle OEMs to use those pressure vessels by delivering them as part of a complete turnkey engineered solution." He emphasizes. "We are able to do that and create a pull for CFRP cylinders." CW senior editor Ginger Gardiner has an engineering/materi- als background and more than 20 years of experience in the composites industry. Read this article online | Read more online about the "2017 Global Carbon Fiber Outlook," presented at CW's Carbon Fiber 2017 conference | Read more online about the different types of CNG tanks | Read online about highly automated, no-touch production lines for composite cylinders |

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