Cummins has just announced a new engine platform that will help its truck and equipment manufacturer customers and their equipment owners transition to alternative and low-carbon fuels without the complexity.
The concept is as simple as it is brilliant.
Under the head gasket on all new engines, the components are nearly identical. But above the head gasket, the components vary depending on the designated fuel type. The engines will be able to run on diesel, natural gas, gasoline, propane or hydrogen.
The company calls the engines “fuel agnostic.”
Similarity of parts to fuel-independent Cummins engines means you stock fewer parts. Your technicians don’t have to memorize a different engine design for each fuel source. And for OEMs using Cummins, engine footprints remain the same regardless of fuel source.
The OEM advantage is particularly valuable. Many of them have already faced multiple uncertainties and obstacles in the preparation of Tier 4 Final engines and watch with some trepidation how to manage the transition to alternative and eventually zero carbon fuels. With Cummins’ fuel commonality, they won’t have to redesign their equipment every time new fuel or emissions regulations are imposed, according to the company.
This design concept will be applied to Cummins’ X-Series, L-Series and B-Series engine platforms. This includes engines used in construction equipment for which the company plans to develop and integrate the new B, L and X platforms over time. “This will be driven by market segment demands across our global businesses as regulations, policies and customers demand improved fuel-independent power units,” the company says.
Don’t expect perfection
“We know the planet can’t wait for the perfect solution to happen,” said Srikanth Padmanabhan, president of the engine business. “Instead, our approach must be a combination of using zero-emission energy where it is available and using cleaner, low-carbon energy where it is not. .”
The core of this philosophy, says Padmanabhan, is that continuous improvement beats delayed perfection. “That means taking leaps when we can, and smaller steps when we can’t. Every decarbonization challenge is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.”
Cummins engineers wanted to design products that reduce carbon emissions without imposing a steep learning curve on customers, says Jonathan White, vice president of commercial engine engineering. “Whether built on the B, L or X platform, these new unified products will have 80% common parts and look and feel familiar to technicians,” he says.
“Product architecture, engine footprint and even service intervals are all designed around using the same parts and components wherever possible. They will be easy to integrate into existing truck models and will significantly reduce the costs associated with training less skilled technicians and retooling service sites. »
Lower the barrier of entry
Upfront costs of switching to these new fuel-independent engines will be much lower than switching to all-electric or fuel cell options, says Amy Boerger, vice president, North America on-road. “It’s critical to lowering the barrier to entry for fleets looking to adopt emissions-reducing technology today,” she says.
“We know that some of our customers are now ready for an all-electric powertrain or hydrogen fuel cell technology. For these customers, Cummins offers products. For customers who cannot yet take this step, this new technology approach can help them quickly start reducing their carbon footprint. With our new fuel-independent products, our customers will be able to customize their own approaches to achieving zero emissions and meeting increasingly stringent emissions certifications.