Making the most of backup power systems with Bi-Fuel
Are you running at peak efficiency?
Being in charge of large energy backup systems can be a difficult experience. Ever cut the lawn and run out of gas half way through? The only difference is that when an emergency hits, you won’t have time to do it on the weekend. This situation repeats itself at every emergency. When the power system needs to be at peak efficiency and the reservoir is on half is not exactly the situation that any facility manager would like to face (especially when fuel delivery can take several hours to days depending on the nature of the emergency). One new promising solution to this dilemma is the use of natural gas Bi-Fuel unit as part of your backup system. Imagine again that you are in the middle of cutting the grass the thunder is rolling in and a magical hose is inserted and the life of your gas is extended just long enough to beat the rain and complete the job.
A Bi-Fuel System is a new technology that enables operators of heavy-duty diesel engines to substantially reduce operational costs and emissions by substituting diesel fuel with lower cost, cleaner-burning natural gas. The system is comprised of a series of technologies that allow engines to safely operate on gas percentages ranging from 50% to 75% of the total fuel requirement without compromising such critical requirements as efficiency, stability and load acceptance. The diesel fuel acts as a pilot flame to ignite the natural gas and creates standard combustion.
The Bi-Fuel System replaces diesel fuel with an equivalent quantity of natural gas. This results in the same net fuel burn vs. load as would be experienced during normal diesel operation. For each gallon of diesel fuel uses, there is a approximately 140 cubic feet of pipeline quality natural gas (based on 129,000 btu/gallon # 2 diesel & 930 btu/scf natural gas). Therefore, for each gallon of diesel fuel displaced during Bi-Fuel operation, an "equivalent gallon" of natural gas is consumed resulting in similar engine fuel efficiencies. (1 m3 of natural gas = 1 liter diesel.)
One key feature of this technology is the ability to switch while ”hot”. If we go back to our lawn cutting analogy, this means that without even the need to shut down the mower, additional fuel supplies can be added to the mix. As a facility manager, this can be a major advantage due to the automated gauge systems that many of these large generators have. The switch to natural gas can be made from anywhere in the world if the correct web-enabled controllers are present in the system. For operations above the programmed power limit, the engine is automatically switched to 100% diesel mode, thus avoiding the necessity to de-rate the engine.
The Bi-Fuel system has several product features:
- The Bi-Fuel system utilizes a state-of-the-art electronic control and monitoring system which activates or deactivates gas mode according to programmed limits.
- The Bi-Fuel system uses specialized controllers that vary gas flow when engine there are changes in engine vacuum level. This system allows the Bi-Fuel system the flexibility and responsiveness to maintain the OEM requirements of the governing system.
- The Bi-Fuel® System electronic control panel monitors various engine and system parameters such as manifold air pressure and temperature, exhaust gas temperature, intake vacuum, gas pressure and engine vibration. This information allows the controller to determine when to activate or deactivate bi-fuel operation depending on engine performance, load level, ambient temperature, knock limits or gas supply pressure levels.
- Bi-fuel can make the standby tanks last up to 5 times longer