Cummins Inc.’s (Cummins’) Columbus Mid-Range Engine Plant received a 2022 Indiana governor’s environmental excellence award. The plant successfully reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by eliminating its painting operation after a two-year study showed that the painting operation was adding little product protection. “It was a win any way you look at it: environmentally, financially, productivity, and quality,” said Senior Industrial Engineer Clarissa Arriaga, who along with Current Product Senior Engineer Ashwini Khandelwal conducted the study that led to the change. “In today’s world we need to do whatever we can to make our engines the cleanest technology possible.”
By reexamining existing processes to reduce redundancy and waste, Arriaga and Khandelwal’s study provides an example of a relatively easy way for companies to save money and reduce emissions. The research found that the majority of parts for the Cummins 6.7-liter diesel engine are already made of corrosive-resistant materials or receive corrosive-resistant treatment before being assembled. In addition to reducing VOCs, eliminating the painting operation also reduced water, soap, chemical, and energy used in the cleaning and drying processes. The research helps bring Cummins closer to its 2030 goal to reduce paint and coatings VOCs by at least 50%.
In addition to lowering the environmental impact of existing processes and products, Cummins is also developing entirely new solutions to help its customers reach their ESG goals. Since debuting its 15-liter (3.9-gallon) hydrogen engine line in May, Cummins has landed significant supply deals as its customers look for solutions to reduce emissions.
In late August, Cummins and Buhler Industries Inc. (Buhler) a tractor manufacturer under the Versatile brand, signed a letter of intent. Versatile plans to integrate the Cummins 15-liter hydrogen engines into its equipment as it works to decarbonize the agriculture market. Versatile has been using Cummins engines in all its four-wheel drive tractors for 45 years. As Cummins’ new powertrain technology investments are centered around lowering emissions and improving performance, it was an easy call for a long-time customer like Versatile to transition toward hydrogen engines. “While diesel engines continue to be the flexible power of choice for the foreseeable future in agriculture, such a collaboration enables both companies to develop low- and zero-carbon solutions that are ideally suited to farming,” said Adam Reid, Versatile’s vice president of Sales and Marketing.
Cummins and Versatile said that hydrogen combustion engines are suitable to perform high load factor and high utilization tasks under a manageable cost profile. There’s no denying the impact of upfront costs associated with transitioning away from diesel toward hydrogen. However, hydrogen internal combustion engines end up saving operators expenses down the road. According to Cummins, its hydrogen combustion engines are easy to maintain while being dependable because of the overlap between parts and components across platforms. These similarities save money and time after the initial purchase and make it easier to scale and service a hydrogen combustion engine fleet.
“Cummins has recently announced its plan to leverage existing platforms and expertise in spark-ignited technology to build hydrogen engines. The high commonality among engine components between diesel and hydrogen leverages scale advantages for original equipment manufacturers [OEMs], while delivering the reliability that farmers need,” said Ann Schmelzer, general manager for Cummins’ Global Agriculture Business.
Hydrogen-Powered Trucks And Trailers
In late August, Transport Enterprise Leasing LLC (TEL) signed a letter of intent to purchase Cummins’ 15-liter hydrogen engines once they became available. TEL will use the hydrogen engines to lower the emissions of its heavy-duty truck fleet. “Our customers are at the heart of our company. Providing them with the best-value trucks equipped with lower-emissions power options will ensure we are prioritizing their continued success and also reducing our environmental footprint,” said Doug Carmichael, chief executive officer of TEL. “Cummins’ investment in multiple technologies minimizing emissions allows us to achieve both.”
Over the last 18 years, TEL has grown to average 6000 wholesale equipment transactions per year and has more than 8500 pieces of equipment currently leased around the United States. “We are pleased to see the leadership of customers like TEL, who are exploring solutions like our fuel-agnostic platform to help their own customers,” said Amy Boerger, vice president and general manager of North America for Cummins’ Engine Business. “The future will include many solutions to help customers decarbonize that meet their varied needs and duty cycles, and we believe hydrogen internal combustion engines will play an important role.”
TEL is yet another US-based company realizing the potential hydrogen can provide in simplifying fleet supply chains and lowering emissions. “We believe this technology is not only essential for the future of our planet but also for our customers to have access to options that work for them,” said Jim Nebergall, general manager of Cummins’ Hydrogen Engine Business. “Internal combustion engines that run on hydrogen will provide customers a financially feasible and familiar power option.”
Werner Orders 500 Hydrogen Engines From Cummins
In mid-September, Werner Enterprises (Werner), a transportation and logistics provider, signed a letter of intent for 500 Cummins 15-liter hydrogen internal combustion engines upon availability. Earlier this year, Werner said it planned to integrate Cummins’15-liter natural gas and Cummins’ X15H hydrogen engines into its fleet. Both engines are part of Cummins’ fuel-agnostic platform. “At Werner, we’re committed to a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 because we recognize the important role our sustainability efforts play,” said Werner’s Chair, President, and CEO Derek Leathers. “Our customers are showing increased interest in more sustainable choices in the marketplace, and we see significant potential in using Cummins’ fuel-agnostic platform to continue the momentum toward reducing our carbon footprint.”
Dual-fuel engines that substitute natural gas for diesel reduce emissions and lower fuel costs. However, hydrogen-fueled solutions take it a step further because hydrogen fuels do not release any particulate matter, carbon monoxide, or VOCs. If hydrogen is sourced from electrolysis using electricity coming from solar panels or wind turbines, then there are no carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions related to the production or burning of the hydrogen fuel.
According to Cummins, converting medium- and heavy-duty trucks to clean hydrogen would eliminate about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions from the US transportation sector.
Cummins’ Fuel-Agnostic Program
In February, Cummins announced its fuel-agnostic platform, which includes a hydrogen option in both the 15-liter and 6.7-liter (1.8-gallon) displacements. A core driver behind Cummins’ deals with Versatile, TEL, and Werner was the advantage of parts commonality across applications, which makes it easier for customers to manage equipment servicing. Cummins’ fuel-agnostic engine platforms are similar across different engines, fuel types, and applications, meaning that similar parts and components are being used no matter the task performed. This commonality provides an advantage for integrated fleets, as well as Cummins’ service network’s ability to help customers no matter the application.
“With enough interest, we believe we can manufacture this technology at scale this decade, providing customers with an option with a low initial cost, extended vehicle range, powertrain installation commonality, and end-user familiarity,” said Nebergall.
Most of the parts and components overlap occurs below the head gasket, but there are different components above the fuel gasket depending on the fuel type. Each engine operates using a different, single fuel. Cummins said the new design approach is being applied across the company’s B, L, and X-Series engine portfolios, which will be available for diesel, natural gas, and hydrogen.
Long-Term ESG Goals
Cummins’ fuel-agnostic engine platforms fit into its Destination Zero strategy, which involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering air quality impacts to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. By 2030, Cummins will reduce Scope 3 absolute lifetime greenhouse gas emissions from newly sold products by 25% and is partnering with customers to reduce Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions from products in the field by 60.6 million tons (55 million tonnes). “Getting to zero is not a light-switch event,” said Srikanth Padmanabhan, president of Cummins’ Engine Business. “Carbon emissions we put into the atmosphere today will have a lasting impact. Having a variety of lower-carbon options is particularly important considering the variation in duty cycles and operating environments across the many markets we serve. There is no single solution or ‘magic bullet’ that will work for all application types or all end users.”
In addition to launching the fuel-agnostic engine platform, Cummins also manufacturers its own electrolyzers, giving the company an integrated offering for truly zero-carbon hydrogen applications. Through fuel cells and engine power, Cummins’ two-pronged approach gives it the ability to tap into different kinds of customers across industries. “Cummins is innovating at every level of the company to find new ways of working that use fewer of the world’s resources,” said Padmanabhan. “We know that our planet cannot wait for the perfect solution to happen. Instead, our approach must be a combined effort of using zero-emissions power where it’s available and using cleaner power where it is not. The planet cannot afford for us to hit pause in the meantime.”
This year, Cummins is celebrating 30 years of experience in Argentina. Argentina is a prime example of how the company is blending legacy business units with modern day solutions to drive performance and lower emissions. Cummins has roots in the Argentine oil and gas, automotive, agricultural, mining, construction, and marine markets. “For 30 years we have been committed to the development of the country, providing solutions innovative and reliable solutions that allow our clients to face the challenges that the world puts in their path,” said Rudy López, general manager of Cummins Argentina. “We will continue to invest to build a more connected and better empowered future for everyone.”
By covering different industries in different parts of the globe, Cummins can position its solutions to better serve its customers. For example, the company has more than 40 customer service and technical service points in Argentina, covering major locations throughout the country. Cummins believes that the depth and breadth of its product and service offerings allows it to understand the specific needs of each industry, as well as operate a fine-tuned distribution network that provides personalized and effective attention for a diverse client base. “Cummins Argentina has operated under the premise of being always responsible for promoting the development of both its collaborators and the community at through joint work, which is why it has directed its actions with an inclusive, diverse, and demonstrating consideration for the welfare of the population where it has a presence,” said Cummins in a statement. More specifically, the company sells a wide range of power solutions, ranging from motors to diesel and natural gas engines, to equipment with alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, cells of fuel, or biodiesel, among others.
By building out its product portfolio across different end markets, Cummins can determine which solution is best fit for a given economy. Argentina is known for having a higher concentration of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations than countries like the United States. Estimates vary, but CNG makes up roughly 13% of transportation sector energy use in Argentina compared to just 4% in the United States. In both countries, natural gas has a dominate share of the industrial, commercial, and power generation energy mix. In Europe, rapid development of hydrogen infrastructure and ambitious climate targets support the shift away from diesel to hydrogen. Independent of how each market is positioned today, Cummins wants to offer a variety of solutions so it can give customers what they need no matter the fuel type or application.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using natural gas resources in the most sustainable way possible, and helping communities address their major environmental challenges are all pillars of Cummins’ Planet 2050 environment sustainability strategy. The strategy is centered around developing and implementing carbon neutral technologies and operations and advancing the circular economy to reuse and limit the waste of water, energy, materials, and fuels. By having decades of experience in countries like Argentina, and more than 100 years of experience in the United States, Cummins can leverage practical solutions that will have a higher chance of adoption.
One of the biggest barriers to entry of new technologies is bridging the gap between the theoretical and the practical. Even within a country, different solutions will work better for different regions, so it’s important to understand business customs and culture. To develop solutions for the Argentine market, Cummins Argentina has a Engine Rebuilding Center equipped with a dynamometer with a test capacity of up to 3600 hp (2685 kW). The facilities at this center are certified with the ISO9001 standard, guaranteeing that 100% of the waste is reused.
In addition to its Engine Rebuilding Center, Cummins has technical training centers specifically targeting success in the Latin American market. Cummins said that the Buenos Aires facilities have trained collaborators, distributors, and different strategic partners on issues related to technological systems for post-treatment of diesel engine emissions. According to Cummins, the center has benefited the university community by providing a space to explore the field and technological applications in the real market.
In addition to technological development, Cummins has invested in Argentine communities through social work, education, care for the environment, and equal opportunity efforts. Cummins believes that its experience in Argentina has given it a deep understanding of both the Argentine market as well as its people. “We are fully convinced that if our surroundings are prosperous, our business will also it will be, which is why one of our priorities is to improve equal opportunities, as well as quality of life of our communities,” said López.
Opportunities For The Gas Compression Industry
At first glance, the transition from diesel to hydrogen for heavy-duty transportation and agriculture applications may not appear to have direct impacts to the gas compression industry. However, the trickle-down effects are sizeable.
Increased integration of hydrogen across industries means higher demand for hydrogen production, whether that’s grey hydrogen produced from natural gas, blue hydrogen produced from natural gas paired with carbon capture and storage, or green hydrogen produced from electrolysis using electricity generated from solar and wind. Increased hydrogen output means new opportunities for compression. In general, heightened end-user interest in lowering emissions is a big win for the natural gas industry as customers look toward displacing diesel with natural gas and turning to CNG as a replacement for diesel and gasoline. It’s also worth remembering that hydrogen produced from renewable natural gas (RNG) achieves the same net-zero benefits as hydrogen produced from solar and wind. As investment floods into funding new RNG projects, the opportunities for onsite compression are sizeable (see “The Rise Of RNG,” Q3 2022 ESG Review, p. 26).
In sum, the shift away from diesel toward hydrogen and natural gas has cross-industry benefits. The trend toward decarbonization continues to unlock opportunities to drive profits and lower emissions for companies with a multi-decade growth horizon.