Alternative Fuel Vehicle Maintenance

An alternative fuel vehicle is a vehicle that runs on a fuel other than "traditional" petroleum fuels (petrol or diesel). Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) operate on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Other alternate fuels used for transportation include liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and Hydrogen (H2) for fuel cells. Natural gas vehicles or alternative fuel vehicles are increasingly being used in metropolitan and suburban areas and many fleet owners are converting their traditional vehicles to alternative fuel vehicles to save money and to benefit the environment. Consequently, fleet managers and vehicle dealers must ensure that their facilities are instrumented with a comprehensive fire and gas detection, alarming, and mitigation system to meet the current code and safety requirements for fueling, maintaining and repairing alternatively fueled vehicles.

Gas Detection and Alarming

Hazardous conditions may arise in facilities due to the presence of combustible and toxic gases.  Hazardous gases may include, but are not limited to:

  • Combustible Gases
    • Methane
    • Propane
    • Butane
    • Hydrogen
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitrogen Dioxide

Such gases may be released because of defects or leaks in the vehicles or storage/fueling equipment, or because of human error. Hazardous gases can build up in enclosed areas and become a risk to the facility or to the safety of the personnel who work in the facility. It is therefore necessary to implement gas and flame detectors along with controllers that can issue suitable alarms or visual warnings and take remediating actions like turning on exhaust fans or opening doors. A comprehensive system can protect assets and personnel within areas such as work bays, paint shops, chassis washes, tire shops, fuel/dynamometer buildings, or fueling areas.

Automation and Integration Strategies

Detecting hazardous gases and issuing alarms are important steps, but it is equally important to take remediation actions. This can be done through integrating the gas detection and alarm system with the building management system responsible for automating the larger facility. Common applications include connecting a Modbus device to a BACnet-managed system.

The primary mitigation solution to an unwanted gas release is to use ventilation. Normal day-to-day operation in a natural gas or other alternative fuel maintenance facility may have the fans on low speed to continuously refresh the air. However, during emergency situations, the ventilation system will “push” fresh air into the building while exhaust fans “pull” air from the building to expel the hazardous gas into the atmosphere as soon as the gas is detected. If the gases continue to escalate, evacuation and additional ventilation are utilized.

Other automation processes may include providing notifications as a local alarm to an employee’s phone, tablet, and/or PC, and controlling the ignition source near the location of the potential accidental discharge of gas.

As these systems are automated, the regulatory agencies require that the systems be “performance approved” and checked on a periodic basis.

Codes and Regulations

Sierra Monitor continues to manufacture equipment and maintain certifications, such as UL 2017 and UL 2075, as defined in the ever-changing codes pertaining to natural gas vehicle facilities. We pride ourselves on adhering to these various national and international codes and regulations.

In addition, a local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may enforce additional requirements beyond these codes and thus should be consulted directly before undertaking facility modifications. Also note that various codes are adopted voluntarily by the states and local municipalities and are enforced by the local AHJ (i.e. Fire Marshal).

Major codes governing NGV facilities include but are not limited to:

Products for Alternative Fuel Vehicle Maintenance

Natural gas or alternative fuel vehicle maintenance facilities require a gas detection system that includes gas detection modules, a method to communicate to a controller, flexible alarm handling, an ability to collect large amounts of data for subsequent analysis, and a method for communicating data to higher-level systems to take facility-wide remediation actions.

Sierra Monitor's Nationally Recognized Testing Lab (NRTL) approved Sentry IT fire and gas solution can ensure the safety and protection of high-value assets and personnel in natural gas vehicle or alternative fuel vehicle maintenance facilities. Sierra Monitor's detectors and controllers that carry the UL 2075 and UL 2017 approvals offer the industry's best Return on Investment (ROI) to the facility manager through innovations that minimize installation, commissioning, calibration, and life cycle maintenance costs. Sierra Monitor's Sentry IT solution is the preferred choice for the diligent and ROI-oriented facility management professional.

Gas Detectors

Fire Detectors

Fire and Gas Detection Controllers

Unlike most fire and gas vendors, we also include our leading FieldServer multi-protocol gateways to connect our Sentry IT system to the facility’s local building management system and to the cloud for remote monitoring, control, and big data analytics.

FieldServer Gateways