Coal Age

JUN 2013

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diesel engines continued However, that mindset appears to be changing. Tom Aubee, vice president for global energy at consulting firm Pace Global, which advises mining companies worldwide, noted that mine operators "…are saying to me 'Where can I buy a natural-gas haul truck?' They're ready to go." Cat's public commitment to development of natural gas fueled mining engines came just a few months after it signed an agreement with Westport, a natural gas engine specialist, to co-develop natural gas technology for off-road equipment. Caterpillar and Westport will combine technologies and expertise, including Westport's High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) technology and Cat's off-road engine and machine product technology, to develop the natural gas fuel system. Caterpillar will fund the development program. When the products go to market, Westport expects to participate in the supply of key components. And it's a sizable market, according to Westport's statistics: With almost 29,000 "units of interest"—in this case, haul trucks in the 100-ton-capacity range and above—in service around the world, and global diesel fuel consumption within that sector pegged at about 1.8 billion U.S. gallons per year, Westport has predicted that the total economic value of fuel cost savings involved in a massive switchover to natural gas from diesel would be in the range of $3.6 billion per year, assuming a $2/gallon savings of LNG energy equivalent over diesel. "This is a significant opportunity that has the potential to transform important segments of the global off-road equipment industries," said David Demers, CEO of Westport. "We are working with the global leader in engines, locomotives and off-road equipment to develop an attractive natural gas offering for their customers. "The substantial price difference between natural gas and diesel fuel is resulting in a strong financial incentive to enable off-road applications to take advantage of low natural gas energy costs without sacrificing operational performance," said Demers. "There is also a clear environmental incentive because of the reduced carbon emissions. Adding to the solid business case for this program is the potential to convert existing field units to natural gas—opening up a whole new market opportunity." While the agreements initially focus on engines used in mining trucks and locomotives, the companies will also develop natural gas technology for Caterpillar's other off-road engine lines. "This agreement does more than pair two leaders in their respective industries," said Steve Fisher, vice president of Caterpillar's Large Power Systems Division. "Many of our customers are asking for natural-gas powered equipment to reap the financial and environmental benefits. The program positions Caterpillar to become the first manufacturer to bring HPDI technology to the high horsepower off-road market, offer the broadest product line of natural gas-fueled machines and equipment, and capitalize on the attractiveness of natural gas as an alternate mobile fuel—all within the shortest time frame for our customers." Westport's HPDI system is based on a patented injector that simultaneously allows tightly controlled quantities of diesel fuel and large quantities of natural Great Care Must Be Taken When Installing Spin-On Fuel Filters BY JOHN GAITHER, P.E. When the time comes to change the spin-on fuel filter on a heavy-duty diesel engine, there is one extremely important thing to remember: the absolute worst thing an operator can do is run a diesel engine out of fuel. That is why following the proper procedures for spin-on fuel filter installation is imperative. Maintenance technicians should follow these six basic steps: 1. Remove the old filter; 2. Clean the base; 3. Lubricate the new filter gasket; 4. Pre-fill the new filter with clean diesel fuel; 5. Install the new filter; and 6. Tighten the new filter per the proper amount of turns that are noted on the label, taking care not to over-tighten. If the filter is unable to be tightened by hand, use the appropriate wrench. The trickiest step is No. 4, filling the new filter. With a diesel engine, the fuel filter needs to be filled with diesel fuel before it is installed. If it isn't, the vehicle will not start. It is recommended that the center of the filter be plugged before diesel fuel is poured into the inlet holes. Only then should the filter be installed on the vehicle. Some newer models of diesel fuel filters feature a plastic plug that helps simplify the filling process. Also, remember that it is important that only clean diesel fuel be poured into the new filter. In conjunction with this step, all air must be bled from the fueling system. This is usually accomplished via a vent plug or June 2013 valve located above the fuel filter, or with an electric fuel pump. Some systems will provide a manual pump that can be used to prime the system. If all of the air is not removed from the system, the vehicle may start, but it will probably run rough for 30 seconds or so before returning to normal operation, and in extreme circumstances, it may not start at all. One other area of concern is the presence of water, which can enter bulk fuel tanks via condensation, carry-over from fuel-distribution systems, and leakage through the fill cap, spill containment valve or piping—before finding its way to the vehicle's fueling system. If water is allowed to enter the fueling system on diesel vehicles, many problems may occur, such as lower power output, engine shutdown, and fuel pump and injector wear and/or damage. For many applications, Luber-finer addresses the strict requirements of spin-on fuel filter changeouts with its TotalTec Heavy-Duty Fuel Filters. The fuel filters feature an advanced design that eliminates the need for a plastic bowl add-on, along with the worry of fuel/water separation and fuel-filter maintenance. They have a larger filtering area for more efficient, longer-lasting filtration, along with durable, leak-proof, all-metal housing construction that withstands high pulse fatigue and reduces the risk of leakage due to cracks and breakage. The absence of a plastic bowl also decreases maintenance time and the mess associated with changing plastic bowl fuel filters. For additional maintenance tips from Luber-finer, visit Gaither is the director of heavy-duty engineering for Luber-finer, which is part of FRAM Filtration. 45

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