Kenworth talks Cummins natural gas engine trucking applications

Kenworth talks Cummins natural gas engine trucking applications

Driven by decarbonization, the Kenwortth T680 outfitted with the Cummins X15N natural gas engine aims to lower trucking emissions.

The biggest challenge that any lower- or zero-emission powertrain technology faces is that diesel is just too good at its job. It’s hyper efficient in its own right in terms of how much energy is pulled out of the fuel in a diesel engine. It creates massive amounts of power–world moving power. And it’s widely available. Those are tall hurdles to clear, but new powertrain technologies are getting close. Natural gas, though not new to the market, has, potentially, a bright future ahead of it as the Cummins X15N rolls out, and Kenworth’s Sarah Abernethy, powertrain marketing manager, is already hearing about the differences this time around.

“We are getting a lot of chatter and a lot of excitement about the X15N, especially in our T680 truck,” she said. “A lot of our key on-highway customers like UPS are really excited to see this engine come to life.”

In addition to meeting the power and performance of diesel, one of the advantages of the X15N in the Kenworth T680 is that it’s familiar. The Cummins X15N itself is the first engine released under the engine OEM’s high-efficiency, lower emissions, multiple fuels (HELM) platform that seeks to commonize new ICE technology–B-Series engines, X15, X15N natural gas and X15H hydrogen. The X15N is purpose-built from the ground up to meet application demands.

Though it fits into the diesel engine footprint, Kenworth is keen on how it’s integrating the new engine into its flagship long-haul truck.

“We have an open dialogue with customers, understanding where the truck will be put in place, where it’ll be put in service,” Abernethy explained, “and then making sure that this X15N is set up for success on our platform to get into that role and to do the job effectively and perform well for our customers.”

The X15N engine has garnered significant attention for its potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions. Fleets operating in states with stringent emissions standards, such as California are particularly keen on adopting this technology to meet their environmental goals, Abernethy noted.

Two of the stand-out spec’ing considerations are frame rail space and gear ratios. Natural gas tanks, whether back-of-cab or rail-mounted, necessitate additional wheelbase space. Additionally, the torque characteristics of the X15N differ from diesel engines, necessitating careful consideration of rear axle ratios to maximize fuel economy and performance.

Watch the video for a closer look at natural gas-driven truck spec’ing considerations and how the use of renewable natural gas (RNG) can push a fleet’s emissions in to net-negative territory. (That’s a good thing, by the way.)

Even more from Kenworth and Cummins

This spring brought a host of announcements. Check out the latest below.


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