CNG Test Drive: Ford F-250 SD Bi-Fuel

Posted on 23. Jun, 2012 by in Auto News

GM and Ram drew a lot of attention at the 2012 NTEA show sold by announcing bi-fuel compressed air and natural gas heavy-duty trucks through its fleet and commercial networks. For comparison's sake, we note that the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD ordered through a dealer, but they must be shipped to Impco for the alternative fuel retrofit.

The Ram HD 2500 will be built on the production line in Mexico. So technically, it's the first of the big players will be able to offer a factory-installed bi-fuel CNG option. However, many do not know that Ford's Bifuel CNG program has for several years, and its suppliers, Westport Inc., is just meters away from the Kentucky plant production line that makes the Super Duty.

Besides the fact that these types of bi-fuel strategies easily expand the range between fill-ups by, in some cases hundreds of miles, there is the problem that CNG generally costs less than half the cost of gasoline for a gallon-equivalent amount of fuel. (CNG, as the name implies, is a gas.) Even with our increased desire to be independent more oil, it makes sense that options such as compressed and liquefied natural gas (which we both have huge supplies within our borders), and propane (or LPG) are going to become more and more popular.

Obviously, a change to or inclusion of something with a weaker infrastructure will take time to create. Even in a large metropolitan area such as Los Angeles, there are only about four dozen filling stations generally consumers. Fortunately, there are websites that you know, where is the next, as well leave, how much fuel costs. We all have our research

Time for a Test Drive

With all the attention on these new vehicles and the discussion on CNG or LPG, or Autogas is our best hope for a smooth and cost-effective transition away from excessive fossil fuels, we thought we would get a hold of one of the most popular players get in the segment and see how it performs in some real driving and commuting.

Our test vehicle was a 2011 Ford Super Duty SuperCab 4×4 Power Systems with Wesport wing bi-fuel conversion. Just in case someone might not be able to huge 18-gallon (gasoline equivalent) tank in the bed that takes differ about 30 percent of the bed-chamber decided Ford set to label all over the vehicle, to ensure that nobody could possibly miss the fact this is a bi-fuel truck with a range of up to 650 miles. Luckily we were there over Memorial Day weekend, so most people just assumed it, we were on the road, or for any parade, appeared as a swimmer.

How it works

Here's how the system works in Westport: A previously identified and tested boxing Super Duty is scheduled for bi-fuel CNG install. Westport, as a top-tier supplier for Ford, do an on-site facility for the need to make all non-Ford mods and changes. For all practical purposes, this is to install a factory.

The Westport-system (Shop F250 Westport Wing) comes with a three-year/36 ,000-mile warranty for the tank, cap, lines and CNG pressure gauge, and it offers a five-year/50 ,000-mile warranty on the fuel pressure regulator and control module as well as the CNG injectors and harness. All the Ford warranties are for the rest of the vehicle.

The bi-fuel system will cost $ 9,750 for the base system with a 18.5-gallon tank, and $ 10,950 for the larger 24-gallon setup.

A bi-fuel system, of course, has to leave two sources. The CNG fuel system is biased, which means that it always start and run on CNG, as long as it is in the tank. If CNG is idling, the system switches to petrol transparent. CNG pressure gauge sits on the right side of the air conditioning controls and looks completely factory. Blue lights to let you know how much CNG in the tank, and you will not see, move your fuel gauge to flash it, just before it begins to empty.

We drove nearly 150 miles on three-quarters of a tank of CNG and watching the F-250 to calculate our average mpg up, up and up, we should notice, provided that you set the computer to a CNG fill-up, your Ford computer can not be read to calculate your fuel consumption higher than 99.9 mpg. We must say, it's interesting to see a good piece without, go to every movement of the fuel gauge, but there are some distinct differences when driving in CNG mode.

What is the difference?

There is a noticeable decrease in throttle response and a general feeling that you are a little less power at their disposal. The introduction of the truck from a dead point feels like the load more than you know that is on or in the truck. Still feels the 6.2-liter V-8 capable and sufficient to move empty in the city without any problems, but we should be careful when hauling or towing heavy loads.

Since our CNG ran tense we switched the exact time the truck to monitor gas, and we could not. We have just calculated on the highway, and after the trip computer, exactly how much fuel we use, we were able to see the exact moment when the computer detects the switch to gasoline, but we felt nothing. We can say that driving the truck in the city on gasoline to many of the same roads we had driven by CNG, we did notice a slight jump in performance feel and response. But our test bench butt, we have decided to take the truck to a real test bed shop and see exactly what the differences were in power. Fortunately, our friends at K & N Engineering were able to squeeze us into their DynoJet, and we found exactly what we expected.

On the Dyno

Since the Westport system prioritizes CNG, we ran the tank completely empty, running on gasoline. We dynoed the truck run on gas as the base line, then immediately ran to our next public CNG filling station (which has happened only three miles away to be) filled and the 18.4-gallon tank. The station noted that it only on the 3,000-psi mark, which is read as 14 gallons, when the pump is turned off, you fill our tank is full. Our tank on the other side were to read full rated at 3,600 psi. Our CNG fuel gauge in the truck clearly legible three-quarters full, and $ 1.83 per gallon, we spent just over $ 25 to "fill" the tank. We assume petrol station had a lower maximum pressure for some sort of security or local fleet for some reason, even though it seems odd that is is not all standardized empty.

After our CNG fill-up experience, we headed back to K & N and ran the Super Duty to the test, this time running on CNG. The comparative figures, as expected, were interesting and not surprising. Maximum performance on gasoline with our 6.2-liter V-8 was 302 at 5,750 rpm, while maximum horsepower on CNG was 263 at 5,750 revolutions per minute, what., A decrease of about 15 percent Torque number variations were almost identical and the maximum gas meters 307 pounds-feet at 4,750 rpm and 261 pounds-feet at 5,000 on CNG, or a decline of about 18 percent.

Awareness System

The total weight of our test truck was a bit on the heavy side at 7,400 pounds (with two tanks full), probably not surprise anyone, given the additional tank, mounting brackets, extra plumbing and hoses, and external shielding included in the Westport-conversion. The extra set of injectors and small mechanical changes within the engine be in no significant weight addition circuit. It is worth noting that a system like this will require some special care, attention and understanding.

The system is full of both Westport and Ford warrantied, but you just can not fill the fuel tank and never used again, as much as you'd like to keep your gas tank full all the time. Generally, many experts recommend not leave unused gas in a tank for more than a few months. After this time, it could significant decomposition and oxidation which could reduce the effectiveness of the fuel in the combustion chambers, as well as sticking or clogging its injectors. Westport is proposing probably good practice would be a full tank by truck every month or two to run. As long as you or your fleet manager can follow to keep that, should the lines and nozzles continue to work effectively.

Fill-Up Experience

It allows the consumer a little more time to get used to refilling the tank, especially since there are so few around publicly accessible natural gas fueling stations. We live near one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas of the country with 7 million people, and only 50 CNG filling stations are within a 60-mile radius. And as you can imagine, the numbers as you venture through the densely populated areas and move to dwindle over the country. Obviously the CNG infrastructure has to do a lot better, especially for long travel use. For those suffering from anxiety spectrum in any form, we have no doubt that is exactly why so many are looking for the new CNG vehicles that you are listening to the options BiFuel, expand the range as some items may limit the to do electrical options.

The station we used locked behind a heavy door that would only open with a working credit card that you slide into a card reader box. Once inside, the pump nozzle fits on the truck nipple flange, which sits right next to the gas filler in the tank flap. Fortunately, all use the same advanced Super Dutys tank flap that diesel-equipped trucks to use to keep the diesel filler neck and diesel exhaust fluid filler. This proves to be the perfect amount of space for both a gas filling and CNG be set appropriately.

The CNG pump has. Lanky one set of tubes and a very un-ergonomic grip, the mechanical clamps on the filler nipple Once it starts and bars are pumping it buzzes and groans and bangs that you fully understand what it means to push highly compressed gases through several small openings. It is not difficult by any stretch, but the sounds are a bit irritating. It took about four minutes to complete the 14 gallons, and the system tells you, both on the screen and with a clear clunk when the compressor shuts off, you. Not put more fuel in the tank

Disconnect the handle a little bit like what I imagine that NASA engineers have to make right with the space shuttle, before the door close on the astronauts, refilling the liquid nitrogen tanks. The small amount of CNG was we could not smell bad, but there were warning signs all over the pumps us to evacuate the area, if you told feel any leaks or impending fractures.

Our very first CNG fillup took about 20 minutes to appear in and out of the station, but we have to make a few more photos and to read through all the scrolling direction of the pump.

Final Thoughts

To fill both tanks, we spent about $ 100, $ 75, of which almost 17 liters of petrol in Santa Barbara, California, prices (known to some of the most expensive in the country) was, with another $ 25 to fill our single 18 – gallon CNG tank. Under normal combined city and highway driving styles, we got about 130 miles on CNG before. Another 300 miles or so went on gasoline before topping off again

Calculated on a per-mile, the CNG gave us 19.2 cents per mile, while the petrol back 25.2 cents per mile. Of course there are still some power, range and efficiency issues to work with this type of alternative fuel system, but as a bi-fuel strategy, it worked pretty well for us.

We especially like the extra area, we observe to love to be able to sit at the fuel gauge on the "full" level for miles and miles, we liked the CNG prices we found in the area, and we liked the invisibility of the change of CNG to gas.

The prices for the commercial systems-which is primarily where they are used is not unreasonable, especially if you find out your specific duty and decide you will make your money back in two, three or four years, depending after use. However, if that will become popular with the regular truck-buying consumers, more access is going to be the most important factor.