Transitional Strategies for Alternative Fuel Supply Infrastructure: Moving from Fuel Flexible to Dedicated Vehicles 952377

California's experience with fuel methanol holds lessons for infrastructure development efforts for other alternative fuels and suggests strategic approaches for developing future infrastructure to serve dedicated vehicles:
  1. 1.
    Vehicle/engine capability to utilize “dedicated” (neat) fuels in a fuel-flexible mode; this requires large investments to meet initially small markets.
  2. 2.
    “Strategic dispersal”, placing stations along primary transportation corridors and in “target areas” determined by proximity to alternative fuel fleets; adopted in the California Enery Commission's M85 network.
  3. 3.
    Massive infrastructure development effort, coupled with the financial depth to persist until fuel throughput reaches economically sustainable levels. This approach may be unstable if tied solely to the fortunes of a single company.
  4. 4.
    “Strategic concentration,” the development of a dense fueling network in delimited areas, allowing the incremental deployment of dedicated fuel vehicles. Early adoption is limited to fleets within the dedicated refueling area(s) until the dedicated fuel network expands beyond the initial areas and the technical and economic merits of the vehicle technologies became known.
Some combinations of these strategies will be most effective, requiring the development of alternative fueling infrastructure in concert with vehicle technologies to bring both to market. Fuel flexibility has been proposed as a mechanism to avoid the “chicken and egg” paradox confronting alternative transportation fuels in an established transportation marketplace. Despite its successes, this strategy has not resolved the lack of a retail fuel infrastructure that hinders the market penetration of technologies that are reliant on dedicated fuel use.
“Dedicated fuel” technologies include fuel cell powered vehicles (FCVs) and methanol ULEVs, which require pure supplies of fuel (e.g., hydrogen, methane and/or methanol). The full advantages afforded by alternative fuels may depend upon dedicated and optimized engines/vehicles. Developers of FCVs have identified M100 as an energy carrier for these next-generation propulsion technologies. A development trajectory leads from today's M85 fuel flexible ICE vehicles to dedicated M100 ICEs, and ultimately to M100-fueled FCVs.


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