Watch Now

Cummins expands natural gas offerings with 15-liter engine

Fleets could zero out carbon footprint by running on renewable natural gas

Cummins Inc. will sell a 15-liter natural gas engine that it introduced last year in China in the United States and Canada. (Photo: Cummins)

Cummins Inc. is bringing the 15-liter natural gas engine it sells in China to North America, expanding its offerings of lower-emissions alternatives to diesel.

Fleets that want a larger-displacement natural gas engine than Cummins’ current 12-liter offering could opt for the bigger powerplant, which could potentially offer negative net-zero carbon emissions if fueled with renewable natural gas (RNG).

Cummins (NYSE: CMI) introduced the 15-liter natural gas engine in China last year. Inquiries of fleets in North America found sufficient appetite to sell it here. The X15N will be built in Jamestown, New York, Puneet Jhawar, Cummins’ general manager, global natural gas business, told FreightWaves.

“From conversations we have had, many fleets have expressed an interest in NG power but were reluctant to adopt the current 12L product,” Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research, told FreightWaves. “Expanding the displacement/horsepower/torque options offers these fleets what they asked for.”

The 15-liter natural gas engine will offer ratings of up to 500 horsepower and 1,850 pound feet of torque. It is expected to weigh up to 500 pounds less than comparable diesel-powered engines and won’t require selective catalyst reduction aftertreatment mandated by California and Environmental Protection Agency regulators for 2024.

Pathway to lower emissions

“Early adopters will mostly consist of customers already using natural gas technology that desire a big bore engine to meet their operational objectives and achieve their goals of near zero or zero emissions,” Jhawar said. “Long-haul fleets looking at reducing their carbon footprint and reaching their sustainability goals are likely to be early adopters for the 15-liter natural gas engine.”

For Cummins, the bigger-displacement powerplant is the latest move on a path to zero emissions that includes advanced diesel, natural gas, hydrogen engines, hybrids, battery electric and fuel cells increasingly powered by low-carbon fuels, renewable electricity and hydrogen.

“This falls into the plethora of solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on our way to zero-emissions goods movement with renewable energy and battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles,” Mike Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency, told FreightWaves.

“Fleets make data-driven decisions and are making choices based on total cost of ownership, the societal drive to more sustainability and coming regulations.”

‘Cost competitive power option’

The Columbus, Indiana-based Cummins has a goal of lowering emissions from newly sold products by 30% by 2030 and a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

That is a big task for a company that produces more diesel engines for trucking than any company. And it is picking up more work in that area, taking over medium-duty engine assembly for Daimler Truck globally as well as making medium-duty engines for Toyota subsidiary Hino Trucks and Japan’s Isuzu Motors.

There were 11 million Class 3-8 diesels on the road in 2019 compared to just 60,000 natural gas-powered trucks, according to the Diesel Technology Forum

“It’s all good,” Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Forum, said Monday when asked about the 15-liter natural gas engine’s potential for stealing diesel engine sales. “One thing it does show is the continuing investment in advanced diesel technology.”

Sunsetting of Cummins Westport joint venture

Natural gas is a fossil fuel derived from oil, albeit with far fewer emissions. The use of RNG in place of natural gas leaves a carbon footprint so small as to be invisible. When methane that burns off landfills into the atmosphere is captured as fuel and runs through a natural gas fuel system, the result is negative net carbon.

“We believe this natural gas option is a game changer as a cost-competitive power option to existing diesel powertrains in heavy-duty trucking,” said Srikanth Padmanabhan, president of Cummins’ engine business.

The 15-liter natural gas engine is also the basis for a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine that Cummins is testing. 

On the marketing side, the new offering aligns with Cummins’ planned purchase of 50% of Momentum Fuel technologies from Rush Enterprises. A proposed joint venture between Cummins and Rush Enterprises (NASDAQ: RUSHA) would produce Cummins-branded natural gas fuel delivery systems for the commercial vehicle market in North America.

Cummins’ 10-year joint venture with Westport Fuel Systems dissolves at the end of 2021.

Cummins will build medium-duty engines for Daimler Trucks

Cummins gets $5M boost to advance hydrogen efforts

Hydrogen on the highway: Cummins and Air Products plan fleet conversion

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.