Optimus Technologies On the Future of Green Fleet

Optimus Technologies Logo, courtesy of Optimus TechnologiesAs part of our “5 Questions on the Future of Green Fleet” series, we discussed the future of sustainable fuels with Mike Glatz, VP of Sales and Business Development for Optimus Technologies.  Optimus Technologies provides high performance biofuel conversion solutions that allow medium and heavy-duty truck fleet operators to extend the lives and increase the economy of existing vehicles.  Optimus is based in Pittsburgh, PA.


Q: Tell us about your company or organization and its products or services.

A: Optimus Technologies is the market leader in high performance biofuel conversion solutions that utilize biofuel and diesel for medium- and heavy-duty truck fleets. With Optimus, fleet operators have the simplest way to significantly reduce fuel costs and emissions, while addressing renewable fuel targets – all with the ability to achieve a payback in about one year.

Founded in 2010 and based in Pittsburgh, PA, Optimus was formed to commercialize the results of five years of research and development of biofuel systems for diesel engines. These efforts were driven by the vision and the knowledge that other alternative fuel solutions were prohibitively expensive and did not provide the same results as biofuels. Based on this research and patent-pending technology, Optimus developed the Vector System – a bi-fuel conversion system that enables diesel engines to run primarily on biofuel.

Optimus is focused on providing clients a seamless transition to renewable fuels that are compatible with existing fueling/maintenance infrastructures; that minimize disruptions to daily operations; and that reduce overall operating costs. This is achieved by manufacturing rugged, cost-effective, EPA-certified fuel conversion systems while employing environmentally responsible business operations.

 

A truck equipped with the Vector System 3, by Optimus TechnologiesQ: Between hybrid, electric, biofuel, natural gas, propane, and dual-fuel do you see a leader emerging?

A: Optimus does not see an alternative fuel leader emerging yet, at least for medium and heavy-duty trucks. Even though there has been a bit of press surrounding CNG, it appears the CNG vendors and trade associations are more interested in its use than fleet managers. Fleets seem to be “kicking the tires” on CNG and finding various limitations and concerns. Consequently, the door is still open to the best solution.

Optimus has seen exciting things happen in the biofuels industry within the last year. First, it received the industry’s first EPA-approval for its bi-fuel (biofuel/diesel) solution, purpose-built for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Second, an increasing number of feed stocks (waste vegetable oil, straight vegetable oil, algae, etc.) are enabling producers a means to generate advanced biofuels that are cheaper to produce and less expensive than diesel. Such producers are able to provide their refined biofuels today to fleets with private fueling facilities. Third, fleets who have adopted biodiesel are looking for the next-generation biofuel solution – one that increases the percent of sustainable, non-fossil fuel used. Due to these milestones and drivers, Optimus is bullish on biofuels for the future.

 

Driver Refueling the Vector 3 System, by Optimus Technologies

Image courtesy of Optimus Technologies

Q: 5 years ago, where did you expect green fleet and alternative fuels to be by now; where do you see it in 3 years?

Five years ago, we expected to see a wider adoption of alternative fuels by now. Nevertheless, we are very excited about what the future holds. The market for alternative fuels is ever-expanding. In three years, we expect to see fleets supporting a variety of alternative fuel technologies that are well aligned to their needs/applications. We don’t think one technology/alternative fuel can address every market need or application. That said, we expect pure biofuels to address a significant portion of the market. We expect to see a larger variety of feed stocks for biofuels that are made available to fleets via a network of biofuel refiners. With the advent of EPA approvals for such solutions, along with emergence of RIN credits for such fuel, Optimus expects next-generation biofuel solutions to make significant strides in the next three years.

 

Vector System Diagram, courtesy of Optimus TechnologiesQ: How can politicians help or hurt the advances that green fleet has made so far?

A: Ultimately, politicians create regulations, provide grants and tax incentives, and help drive public sentiment. They can help advances in green fleet adoption through all three activities across a broad range of alternative fuels, and in particular the renewal of the RIN program credits.

 

Q: What is one technology, issue, opportunity, or problem that the industry is either under- or over-estimating?

A: Fleet managers and industry analysts are currently over-estimating the benefits of CNG. First, while CNG might be cleaner than coal, it is not necessarily cleaner than diesel when you look at the entire lifecycle of CNG (from extraction to consumption). For instance, CNG production creates methane, which is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Second, while CNG may be relatively inexpensive currently, future price per GGE of compressed natural gas will increase. Exports of US liquefied natural gas and pending EPA regulations on methane emissions will likely lead to increased CNG prices.

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Sebastian James

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