2015 - Volume #39, Issue #3, Page #14[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Using Natural Gas In Diesel EnginesA growing number of irrigation farmers are realizing substantial savings by converting diesel irrigation pumps to natural gas. Nebraska farmers Jerl Joseph and his son Eric saved hundreds of dollars a year in fuel costs after they converted two diesel-burning irrigation-pump engines to natural gas. One of them is a Case-IH 4-cylinder that runs a quarter section pivot plus an additional 40 acres. The other is a 4-cylinder Deere on an 80-acre pivot. After converting the engines with a kit, the Joseph’s plumbed the engines for the natural gas feed.
Until recently, Norman Bredthauer of Arcadia, Neb. had the longest pivot irrigator in Valley County, and the engine powering it consumed 7.5 gal./hr. of diesel fuel. Norman’s fuel bill was $30,000/year for this one engine. After he converted to natural gas, Bredthauer’s engine was using gas at a rate of 7.25 therm/hr. There are approximately 1.4 therm in a diesel gallon equivalent, which meant that this engine now uses the equivalent of 5.2 gal./hr. of diesel fuel with natural gas. The conversion therefore reduced Bredthauer’s operating costs from $28.13/hr. (figuring diesel fuel at $3.75/gallon) to about $13.64/hr., a savings of $14.49/hr.
The Nebraska farmers converted the engines with kits from C&E Clean Energy Solutions in Sturgis, S. Dak. The kits included the required gas valves and solenoid, a fuel-injection manifold that fit between the air intake and the turbocharger, and a pyrometer (temperature gauge) that was installed in the exhaust manifold to protect against overheating. The kit meters natural gas into the engine airstream after the engine is started using diesel.
Joseph says it generally costs about half as much to irrigate using natural gas. He adds that the best part of the conversion is that you can go back to 100 percent diesel at any time. He says kits are sized for engine horsepower and fuel consumption. A kit ranges from about $1,300 for engines up to 75 hp, to $3,400 for larger engines. Joseph says if diesel becomes less expensive than natural gas, or the flow of natural gas is interrupted, he can easily go back to diesel.
According to C&E, return-on-investment on a stationary diesel application can be achieved in a few hundred hours of operation. The kits work well on both turbocharged and naturally aspirated stationary engines.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, C&E Clean Energy Solutions, Sturgis, S. Dak. 57785 (ph 800 435-6810; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.cecleanenergy.net).
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