Genset Battle Royale; Diesel, Natural Gas or Bi-fuel!September 5, 2017
Canada has a variety of fuel options for commercial and industrial power generation. Diesel fuel has historically been the top contender since there have been diesel engines available in the industrial market. They are rugged, reliable, and much more efficient than gasoline. With time comes innovation, and today there are many different industrial power generation options. But which one is the best? Let’s see if Diesel will hold on to its championship title or if it will be overthrown by Natural Gas or Bi-Fuel?
Current Champion: Diesel Fuel
Diesel is used a lot in remote areas where there is no access to Natural Gas. Diesel is shipped to these locations and is used for everything from vehicles to power generation. There are no spark plugs or wires which reduces maintenance costs and engine failure. Diesel fuel is one of the most efficient and energy-dense fuels available today. Diesel can be used for prime or standby power applications, and has the ability to provide power to small loads or up to huge 6 Megawatt loads. Unfortunately, Diesel is not the cleanest source of fuel. It’s bad for the environment as it creates filthy particulates, but there are stiff regulations in place to move industrial Diesel engines into Tier 4 Final emissions standards. As well, Diesel cannot be stored too long or it starts to breakdown and becomes unsuitable for use, causing damage and clogging filters if used.
Challenger to the right: Natural Gas
Natural Gas is extremely abundant in Canada and is becoming more and more readily available. A major advantage is that it does not create particulates, so it is a much cleaner fuel. Natural Gas is a fraction of the price as compared to Diesel. However, Natural Gas is not as powerful as Diesel. The initial cost of the engine is a little higher but the gas itself is cheaper. The offset is you may consume more Natural Gas than Diesel for equivalent power output. The biggest problem with Natural Gas is that remote areas requiring power generation must get a lot more complex with how they store it as compared to Diesel. It is possible to compress it down to liquid form and store it using a cryotank, but this makes the process costlier. In summary, the Natural Gas generator option maybe the best option for urban areas but not as much in rural or remote areas. Natural Gas also has the option to be used in cogeneration or CHP (learn about CHP here) which has amazing efficiency and is much more environmentally friendly
Challenger to the left: Bi-Fuel
This isn’t the new guy; Bi-Fuel has been around as long as Diesel. It’s been used since the 1930’s before the power grid expanded into rural areas; these Bi-Fuel engines could be found all over the world! They were taken out of service due to the economic benefits of the power grid but the concept is gaining popularity again. The push for cleaner energy, and reducing imported oil is at the top of the governments reoccurring issues. Diesel fuel prices are on a steady rise along with gasoline, while Natural Gas stays low and inexpensive. These Bi-Fuel systems that allow mixing of Diesel and Natural Gas can harness the efficiency and higher torque of Diesel, while also taking advantage of the cleaner emissions and lower cost of Natural Gas. This option is more powerful than just Natural Gas option. It is also more expensive that either option.
Each challenger has its pros and cons for power generation. Bi-Fuel can be complex and expensive to get started up, but offers a cleaner option than Diesel and a more powerful option than Natural Gas. Diesel can be used anywhere and is the absolute most powerful, but it comes with a huge environmental cost until regulations are fully implemented. Then there is Natural Gas which is hands-down the cleanest option – also perhaps one of the cheaper options – but it’s limited on power and where it can be used. The selection comes down to application, location and cost, as well on environmental considerations.
Genrep offers Seneca Power Generation brand generators. These commercial or industrial heavy duty generators come in a variety of fuel types. Seneca offers Diesel, Natural Gas and Bi-Fuel options; we work with you to ensure the best power product for your application. Click here to learn more http://genrep.com/products/generators/
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