By on April 6, 2011

The NYT reports:

The Environmental Protection Agency has revised its alternative-fuel conversion regulations for light and heavy-duty vehicles, making it easier for manufacturers to sell conversions that are compliant with clean-air laws. The 186-page ruling provides an exemption from a Clean Air Act prohibition against tampering when converting an engine to run on alternative fuel.

In the past, a manufacturer of alternative-fuel conversion systems was required to certify its products in the same manner that a vehicle manufacturer certified its vehicles — an expensive and difficult process. The new regulations provide a way to comply with clean-air standards through streamlined testing.

In essence, the rule change creates a graded compliance structure, depending on the age of the converted vehicle, making it easier to retrofit older vehicles. Read all about it at the EPA’s website.

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16 Comments on “EPA Streamlines Alt-Fuel Conversion Regulations...”

  • avatar

    I’ve considered a natural gas Honda Civic (built here in Indiana) but I’ve read a lot of negative comments about the home compressor refueling unit.  Since there are almost no commercial filling stations around, that would be a must.
    With the abundance of nat gas, this looks to me like a winning fuel for a commuter car that doesn’t go far from home base.

  • avatar

    Around here (Sunnyvale, CA), the garbage trucks run on natural gas.  I assume they get refilled each night and are then ready to go the next morning.  There are probably a lot of similar applications.

  • avatar

    Its a great car to own in a place like Los Angeles, as long as you have something that runs on gasoline or diesel for long trips. The home refueling station idea didnt work for us either. There are a sufficient number of public stations that make it practical. Even if the EPA approves, CARB still wont allow conversions, it has to be factory, which limits it to the Civic, or a used Crown Vic, or very few others that are not easy to find. All the LA Metro buses are now natural gas.

    • 0 avatar

      Can either of you who’ve had problems with the home fueling approach for natural gas vehicles elaborate in greater detail on what was unsatisfactory about the experience? Thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Not even counting the permitting and installation hassles and costs, including 240v power, the numbers dont add up. $4000 to buy, 6000hr life at which time it shuts down and has to be returned for a $2000 rebuild, only 1/2 equivalent gallon per hour output. Remember, you still have to buy the gas and electricity at normal retail rates from the utilities.

  • avatar

    Back in the ’90s in Europe some countries had gas, others didn’t.
    We planned a trip from Milan to Czech Rep around gas availability in a limited number of places in Czechia and a refilling to full tank in Bolzano, last stop it Italy before Germany and Austria.
    Fortunately my friend’s BMW 328i was able to switch back to gasoline, because we did run out of gas in the middle of the night in the mountains 60 kms away from Prague.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    FOR TEH WIN!!!11!!
    That should really give a kick for car conversion. People moving into the system now will be delighted by the benefits brought by the current technology: excellent driveability and losses in or below the 10% range. If calibrated properly the customer won’t see the difference.
    Provided there’s enough demand in certain models, system manufacturers will go all the way to pass an emission controls test. In Europe many cars have already been certified.
    On that Corolla, you got to see how clean it is. One of the cleanest set ups I’ve seen. They go off the line like that in Venezuela. By the way, the tank is usually covered by the carpet.

  • avatar

    A first step of thousands needed to rid us of the more pettifogging regulations.
    Oh, and Congress should still send them a message that the only way they will be allowed to regulate CO2 is by breathing more slowly.

  • avatar

    why are you guys so concerned about the range and distance to the home fueling station? All natural gas (or LPG) cars I know have both gasoline and the respective gas tank. they automatically switch over to gasoline when gas runs out. Obviously your monetary advantage goes away when you drive with petrol gasoline, but here is not range anxiety (as long a we have gas stations, though). I assume their gasoline tank is smaller to save space and wight (5 gallons?), but I’m not even sure about that.
    The engine is pretty much the same as a gasoline engine. Possible they tampered with compression, ignition point etc. nothing as revolutionary as a hybrid or EV.
    I assume all the home-brew-grease diesel conversions never got EPA certified :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      There are some dedicated CNG or LPG cars in the market, hence the range anxiety.
      A normal car converted to run also on CNG or LPG retains its stock fuel tank. Usually the alternative fuel is good for around one third to half the range of petrol.

    • 0 avatar

      Athos, I have a Mitsubishi Lancer converted to LPG (vapour injection system) and can say the fuel consumption has gone up around 15% compared to gasoline.  Even so, the running cost works out to be around half price and the range is identical to gasoline (LPG tank is a bit larger).

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        I was speaking from my CNG experience. Good to know that you got a tank with the same range as petrol.
        And about the economy, is what I’d expect.
        Do you have multipoint LPG injection, LPI or the vaporizer system?

    • 0 avatar

      The only CNG cars here are dedicated, not dual fuel. In order to take advantage of the much higher octane of gaseous fuels, and minimize horsepower loss, compression ratio is increased beyond what will run on gasoline. Yes, the engine is basically the same, not even approaching the complexity of a hybrid. Thats a big part of the attraction to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Dual-fuel CNG cars often have a notional trunk unless you’re talking pickup or Crown Vic (and even then…).  If that’s ok with you, you may as well get a hybrid. They’re also notoriously slow to refuel using the home-installed kits.  Again, PHEV is much easier, cheaper and probably about as fast.
      I can’t see the point with CNG, not when plug-in hybrids (and even EVs) have a huge infrastructure lead, are more carbon-neutral, and offer about the same economy.

      • 0 avatar

        Refueling at a public station is essentially identical to filling your gasoline or diesel tank. Much of the infrastructure exists, gas mains running down the street, but that is not quite as extensive as the electric grid. Still, ten minute fillups of batteries is not yet doable. As for the carbon issue, About 50 percent of US electricity is from coal, about 20 from nuke, wind, solar, etc. and the rest from oil and gas. So, it depends on where you live.

  • avatar

    Watch the movie Gasland and you might not feel so confident in the future of nat gas. Pretty depressing portrait of this “clean and abundant” energy source.

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