With the growing use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a motor fuel, the application of advanced technologies to improve fuel efficiency (thereby reducing operating costs and emissions) provides an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of CNG fuels. Previous work by Electric Applications Incorporated (EAI) under contract with the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium (ALABC) has demonstrated vehicles showing that advanced lead-acid batteries can meet the required performance and durability expectations for start-stop and micro hybrid duty at considerably lower cost than nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion batteries. With the delay in US and worldwide market penetration of electrified vehicles, affordable micro hybrids with innovative and economic technical solutions (including alternative fuels) will dominate the market in the coming years. This project specifically addresses this emerging market and supports the need for fleet owners to reduce fuel costs and extend driving range by providing them with cost-effective, safe and environmentally beneficial alternatives to conventionally-designed gasoline/diesel engine vehicles.
The project brings together two approaches that have until now been developed on separate tracks; vehicles using compressed natural gas, and vehicles using off-the-shelf hybrid electric technology. Combining these two approaches allows the low-cost, off-the-shelf hybridization approach developed by ALABC to economically address the range extension issue that has been one of the challenges facing NGV developers, and to improve the economic attractiveness of natural gas vehicles for fleet markets. In this project, a start-stop hybrid Dodge RAM 1500 HFE will be up fitted to utilize CNG fuel, and an advanced lead-carbon start-stop battery, providing an immediate opportunity to market the CNG hybrid concept and collect data to support design calculations and battery testing in support of additional natural gas hybrid vehicles.