Hexagon sees untapped potential and promise in RNG


Hexagon Agility president Seung Baik shrugs his shoulders when requested why renewable pure gasoline (RNG) has but to benefit from the limelight of diesel alternate options reminiscent of hydrogen gasoline cells or batteries.

“I don’t know why we’re not speaking about it extra,” he mentioned, throughout a briefing on the firm’s North Carolina facility. “RNG is an answer we ought to be speaking extra about.”

There’s definitely a lot to love. The gasoline is produced utilizing sources reminiscent of livestock and agricultural waste (to not be confused with precise crops) and captures methane that may in any other case escape into the ambiance. It will also be blended into present pure gasoline pipelines with out sacrificing engine efficiency, he mentioned.

Type 4 cylinders
Hexagon dominates the marketplace for Sort 4 cylinders and techniques that carry pure gasoline to trucking. (Picture: John G. Smith)

Any truck geared up to run on pure gasoline can use RNG. And Hexagon produces and installs the all-important Sort 4 cylinders and gasoline techniques on 80% of the industrial automobiles that use them within the U.S.

“The tools is identical,” Baik added, referring to RNG and its geologic counterpart. “It’s simply the molecules are cleaner.”

Extra tools choices

The tools choices are additionally about to develop in a major means. Cummins’ X15N engine will ship as much as 500 hp and 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque — filling a niche within the market that has existed since Westport stopped producing its 15-liter engine, and bettering the facility of 12-liter engines that ship 400 hp and 1,450 lb.-ft.

There’s no diesel particulate filter, diesel exhaust fluid, or diesel oxidation catalyst to take care of, both.

“We’re very excited concerning the launch of that engine subsequent 12 months,” mentioned Erik Bippus, senior vice-president – gross sales and advertising and marketing, noting the 15-liter model could possibly be a match for 330,000 of the medium- and heavy-duty vans produced for the North American market yearly. One other 225,000 automobiles could possibly be addressed utilizing 6.0-, 6.7- and 9-liter engines.

“There’s excellent infrastructure for Class 8 trucking at the moment,” he added, referring to the pipelines themselves.

“There are not any pipelines for hydrogen at the moment.”

– Jon Erik Engeset, Hexagon president and CEO

Evaluate that to the alternate options.

“There are not any pipelines for hydrogen at the moment,” famous Jon Erik Engeset, president and CEO of the Hexagon dad or mum firm. Essentially the most viable possibility there, at the moment at the very least, is in containers trucked to a person.

The corporate continues to be getting ready for what Baik describes as a “plurality” of fuels moderately than a single choice to displace diesel. “We’re agnostic with regards to vitality decisions,” Bippus mentioned.

However there’s no mistaking among the advantages particular to RNG.

Wells to wheels comparison
RNG automobiles can generate decrease emissions than alternate options when trying from wells to wheels, Hexagon says, citing analysis from a number of sources. (Illustration: Hexagon)

Wanting wells to wheels

Wider acceptance of RNG largely hinges on a spotlight that considers emissions from “effectively to wheels”.

Pure gas-fueled vans slash undesirable tailpipe emissions, however don’t eradicate them altogether. A well-to-wheels evaluation, although, considers how the vitality itself is produced.

Geologic pure gasoline – the sort that comes from a conventional effectively – generates the equal of 543 grams of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilometer, in response to analysis compiled by Hexagon. Change that gasoline with RNG made utilizing manure, and the vans really take away 745 grams per kilometer, moderately than letting methane escape into the ambiance.

To place that into perspective, at the moment’s diesel generates 663 grams per kilometer.

natural gas ROI
Pure gasoline gasoline costs are extra steady than these related to diesel, and Hexagon calculates that customers can understand a return on funding in two years. (Illustration: Hexagon)

Battery-electric automobiles generate 246 grams per kilometer based mostly on Europe’s electrical grid, however the whole surges to 1,069 grams if the electrical energy is generated at a coal-fired plant. Even hydrogen, when produced from pure gasoline, generates 504 grams per kilometer, though the quantity drops to 10 grams if it’s made utilizing inexperienced vitality sources.

To compound issues, Hexagon continues to focus on the problem of manufacturing sufficient vitality utilizing any single supply. North America and Europe’s heavy-duty transportation wants require 5 exajoules of vitality per 12 months. To place that into perspective, 5 giant nuclear energy crops are wanted to generate simply 1 exajoule of electrical vitality.

“Roughly 30 exajoules is required to fulfill the [global] demand. Solely two is being accessed at the moment,” Bippus mentioned. “For the North American market there’s roughly 7 exajoules of biomass accessible to fulfill the 5 exajoule demand. And there’s not even 1 exajoule being sourced at the moment.”

RNG accounts for greater than 90% of the pure gasoline accessible for transportation gasoline in California, and about half of the gasoline accessible in different states.

On a well-to-wheels foundation, renewable pure gasoline (RNG) generates decrease emissions than alternate options that may carry out higher on the tailpipe alone. (Picture: John G. Smith)

Higher vary, extra choices

Within the midst of all of it, regulators proceed to push for greener choices than diesel engines ship at the moment.

“These authorities targets are getting extra aggressive. Customers are getting increasingly impatient,” Baik mentioned, referring to RNG as an “simple button” to assist attain varied targets.

The gasoline definitely helps overcome among the underlying vary anxiousness related to various vitality sources. Battery-electric vans supply ranges of 200-250 miles. As we speak’s hydrogen gasoline cells promise ranges of 400-500 miles, or as much as 750 miles when including 100 kilograms of hydrogen. (Every kilogram of that gasoline equates to a diesel gallon equal.)

In distinction, day cabs operating on compressed pure gasoline (CNG) or RNG can run 850 miles between fills. Longhaul vans with sleepers might run 1,200 miles or extra when geared up with back-of-cab tanks and twin facet mounts, Hexagon experiences.

Pure gasoline automobiles admittedly value greater than diesel-powered tools up entrance, however the upcharges of $40,000 to $50,000 are lower than these related to battery-electric automobiles. And the gasoline prices are undeniably extra steady. Hexagon calculates that fleets would understand a return on investments in two years.

The corporate’s curiosity within the gasoline is comprehensible. It accounts for 80% of the U.S. marketplace for the all-important Sort 4 cylinders, and the bigger Titan cylinders that may be carried to clients account for a “cell pipeline” that transports 18% of the RNG used for mobility within the U.S.

Hexagon manufacturing
Hexagon continues to develop its manufacturing footprint, and a Kelowna website will give attention to hydrogen. (Picture: John G. Smith)

Hexagon’s position

However additionally it is a participant in different vitality sources. The Hexagon Purus division produces the instruments to distribute hydrogen and incorporate it into fuel-cell-electric automobiles, boasting what the corporate says is without doubt one of the most energy-dense and lightest industrial automobile battery techniques accessible.

Even when you haven’t heard of the corporate itself, Hexagon has performed a key position in a number of bulletins. It has a multi-year deal to produce hydrogen cylinders for the Nikola Tre, and a long-term letter of intent to produce a number of Hino vans with battery techniques starting in 2024. There are additionally hydrogen techniques for fuel-cell-driven buses, and a worldwide provide settlement with Air Liquide for hydrogen distribution modules.

Collectively, its techniques could be discovered in additional than 70,000 industrial automobiles – operated by fleets as various as Waste Administration, FedEx, UPS and Frito Lay — and it has greater than 1,700 cell pipeline modules world wide.

Mix the work throughout the globe, and Hexagon techniques collectively helped to keep away from 1.156 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equal emissions.

Hexagon production
Hexagon produces tools for an array of different vitality sources. (Illustration: Hexagon)

Fast progress

The corporate continues to develop as effectively. Quickly. The manufacturing facility in North Carolina has already marked up plans to develop its footprint. An automatic facility in Kelowna, B.C. – house to an engineering heart that has developed battery packs — will by this November start producing battery and hydrogen storage techniques. And a plant in Lincoln, Neb., continues to spin composite threads into cylinders.

Its 1,700 staff are unfold throughout 14 manufacturing services and 9 different places globally, many drawing on deep company roots in composite supplies.

“Sort 4 is admittedly about winding,” Engeset defined, referring to the way in which strands are wrapped to create the cylinders. He likened it to wrapping rope round a balloon – however one which could possibly be crammed with hydrogen and needing to face up to pressures as much as 1,000 bars.

“Individuals who don’t perceive this product intimately will make the error, possibly of considering of it as a commodity. But it surely’s actually a particularly difficult product to provide repetitively and with the required security,” he mentioned.


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