This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 29, 2002

NREL Develops High-Efficiency Natural Gas Engine

A prototype medium-duty natural gas engine that uses an innovative fuel injection technology shows promise for achieving high fuel efficiency with low emissions, according to a new report from DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In tests conducted by Southwest Research Institute, an 8.1-liter compressed natural gas engine was equipped with fuel-injection pre-chamber (FIPC) technology and achieved a 17 percent boost in fuel efficiency with low emissions. The tests show promise for developing natural gas engines for trucks that will compete with diesel engines in terms of fuel efficiency and emissions. See the NREL press release.

Commercial interest in alternatives to diesel fuel may increase under regulations that will go into effect with model year 2007. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require reduced emissions from diesel trucks and buses and lower levels of sulfur in diesel fuel. The D.C. District Court of Appeals upheld the EPA rule in early May. See the EPA press release.

Diesel engine manufacturers are already facing an October deadline for improved emissions. Thus far, only Cummins Inc. has had an engine certified by the EPA to meet the new standards. According to Cummins, its new engines achieve slightly better fuel economy and are 80 percent quieter than their predecessors. See the Cummins "Toughest Standards" Web site.

NREL's latest natural gas engine report is one of a series issued by the laboratory to provide information about promising alternative transportation technologies. In fact, as a lead DOE laboratory for research and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency, NREL produces hundreds of publications on these topics each year. How to keep up? Try subscribing to NREL's Electronic Outreach Network (NEON). The new service sends out a weekly email listing of the latest additions to the NREL publications database. This week's issue includes energy design guidelines for schools in hot and dry climates, as well as several publications on energy saving improvements at a newsprint company in Augusta, Georgia. See the NEON page on the NREL Web site.