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The Summer of 2008

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  • The Summer of 2008

    The summer of 2008
    A true CNG Story

    Have you ever had your computer crash? What did you do? Did you reboot it? Did you reformat the hard drive? Or did you call one of your sons friends who was sort of a Nerd and let him do his magic and get it fixed? Now let us compare this computer problem with problems we have with our cars. Sometimes there are problems with cars that are hard to find. I worked in one shop where a sign hung on the wall which said “there are no unsolvable problems, some just take longer than others”. CNG conversions are not “problems”, there are always solutions. For the past 35 years of my life I have been repairing cars, in this time I have met many mechanics and there are only a few of those who rise to the top of their field. This is because they have a natural talent to understand mechanical problems and the patience and technical ability to repair cars. Over my lifetime the automobile has progressed from a simple concept with very few electronic parts to a sophisticated machine with more computers and sensors than a NASA Rocket Ship. The general public still looks to these few Trained and Certified Technicians to solve their Mechanical and Electronic problems on their Cars.

    Many of these talented Technicians here in Utah saw the introduction of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) Vehicles as an opportunity to help motorists do something good for the consumer and the environment. It was a win-win situation for both the installer and the consumer, or so it seemed? These New CNG car owners would be able to burn clean Natural Gas, a fuel source that we have plenty of here in Utah, a fuel source that is low priced & a fuel source that burns cleaner than traditional gasoline. Instead of being rewarded for getting their Safety training in CNG, collecting CNG products and installing CNG kits, these Technicians were painted as Criminals by the press and others.

    Now, let’s take a look at the Modern CNG Industry as a whole. Where did all of the current CNG Vehicles come from? Most of the Dedicated (CNG only) and Bi-fuel (both CNG and Gasoline) vehicles on the road today were built and converted over the past 15 years by Car Companies and Private Retrofitters. Most of these conversions were spawned out of Mandates and Directives from the Government in an effort to clean up our Air. As the CNG Industry in the US grew and the vehicles got more complicated, the older certified CNG kits were not sophisticated enough for the newer vehicle this introduced more tunable Kits to the certified converters. Around this time, the EPA noticed that some of these conversions were burning dirtier than their Gasoline counterparts so, (tampering) directives were issued whereby the offending Vehicles could be monitored. The older certified CNG systems were good in their day, but as the Vehicles themselves got more sophisticated, more tunable certified CNG kits (as mentioned above) were introduced, most of these were sequential injection. Many of these kits came from companies outside the United State who had been producing these kits for many years. For a while it was profitable for CNG Kit manufacturers to get the EPA approval each year. There were plenty of fleets who needed their kits due to Government mandates, etc.. and the installers and consumers of these kits were in some cases receiving rebates and incentives from the Federal and State government for these conversions. As the Vehicles got more sophisticated and the rebates and incentives dried up, it was no longer profitable for the Kit Producers to certify their kits. A single certification is only good for one vehicle, one engine family for one year, the next year, the process needed to be repeated.

    Now comes the famous Summer of 2008, the gasoline prices are tripled, the consumers are squeezed and here in Utah we have a clean burning money saving Alternative, CNG. As the car dealers began pulling in overpriced factory converted vehicles the Independent Repair Facilities began training their technicians and searching for CNG kits to install.

    World wide the United States is behind the curve when it comes to CNG Conversions. As the US tries to catch up with the rest of the world and help clear the air, we now go into this new year, needing to rethink our approach to CNG Conversions. We, all CNG Shops, need to work together. Those who install certified, (EPA) and imported, (non certified) kits. We can all come together and help each other. The certified Kits need Safety and
    Emission Testing from time to time. Some older systems may need to be retrofitted with an Imported kit to run cleaner. We must share tuning information and mantainence schedules & the Imported kit conversions also need to be checked for Safety and Emissions.

    Each individual State needs to Certify and Safety Check the CNG Vehicles within their borders. At this time the EPA Certification Process is cumbersome, antiquated and not flexible enough to keep up with the current influx of CNG Conversions. People need to be able to convert what ever vehicle they are driving, not just the Fords and Chevy’s that the government and state fleets have been using. The CITIZENS want CNG, the POLITICIANS want CNG, the PICKENS PEOPLE want CNG, and those driving GAS GUZZLERS want relief through CNG.
    There is an answer:
    1) Streamline the conversion and certification process.
    2) Create an Emission testing program tighter than the original EPA Standard.
    3) Create a Safety standard based on NFPA52 for all CNG Vehicles and systems.
    4) Let the State implement and regulate these programs using the Certified Trained CNG Technicians already in the state.
    5) Create a board of Certified CNG Technicians to help train others in the testing and repair of CNG systems.
    6) Implement these programs using existing Safety and Emission stations.
    Last edited by younkin; 01-28-2009, 06:14 AM.
    Jim Younkin

  • #2
    Re: The Summer of 2008

    AMEN to that . . . . and reward these cng techs with excellent pay and benefits that rival what bloated old-school big 3 automakers have been paying to churn out same old 6,000 pound tanks that get 18 mpg.

    Utah cng techs SHOULD BE the envy of the world . . . they should be the beginning of transformation of converting 500,000 vehicles to bi-fuel within the next 18 months!!!


    • #3
      Re: The Summer of 2008

      Well thought out and well said. Some of your "laundry list" already exists, for two curriculum and safety requirements. There is a group that will be working on technician certification and facility certification will be meeting in the next month or so.

      The main thing that needs considered is the documentation of each step in your proposed process (I really hate to say it because I hate paperwork). With documentation you verify qualification, improvement in system operation, training, safety, etc, bureaucarats love paper; but you can make your case and cover your *[email protected]

      Good luck with the idea