In the transition to electric mobility, the 'hybrid' solution stood out as the best compromise between the need to reduce emissions and that of maintaining autonomy and ease of use of traditional cars. In this scenario, being able to use ecological and economic alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG) in place of petrol or diesel oil represents an additional strength that increases the 'green' footprint of hybrid propulsion models.
For this reason, the market for gas transformations of hybrid cars is also rapidly consolidating in Italy, thanks to the development of technologies, the know-how acquired by the installers and greater awareness among users.
During 2020 the Italian Ecomotive Solutions and Autogas Italia ('sisters' within the Holdim group, specialist in engine calibration) took a further step forward in this field with the obtaining of approval by the Ministry of Infrastructures and of Transport for Euro 6D Temp types of engines, also for natural gas configurations. This is the first approval in Italy, made possible also by the collaboration with Snam4Mobility, the subsidiary of Snam which promotes sustainable mobility with natural gas and biomethane.
The choice of this power supply can concern both economic aspects, as the saving to the pump is considerable, but also ecological: methane, as tests confirm, produces less polluting and climate-altering emissions compared to traditional fuels, with benefits particularly evident when it is obtained from sustainable and renewable sources such as biomass (biomethane). A hybrid vehicle converted to methane can emit 24% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than the same petrol / hybrid vehicle (data obtained by carrying out tests with PEMS - Portable emissions measurement system).
This is how the specific methane conversion kit was born, suitable for direct and indirect injection engines, and already available at the partner workshops.
The Toyota C-HR Hybrid experience
The development was carried out on a Toyota C-HR 1.8 Hybrid; the hybrid / petrol + CNG dual fuel system is currently the only one recognized by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.
The pilot car was made available for this project by Snam4Mobility. The car will become part of the company's ecological fleet, which is also being implemented by Ecomotive Solutions and Autogas Italia. Snam is committed to boosting the decarbonisation of transport in Italy by investing both in strengthening the network of natural gas distributors for cars (CNG) and trucks (LNG) on the national territory - which is already the most developed in Europe today - and in the construction of biomethane plants.
The engine compartment houses a dual stage pressure reducer, an electronic control unit for the control and management of the CNG system, a rail with four CNG injectors.
In order to safeguard the original volumetric capacity, a 'tailor-made' solution has been designed which provides for the housing of three 24 + 24 + 22 liter tanks that allow a variable range of 300-350 km based on the distances and the conditions of use of the vehicle.
The charging point for refueling the tanks is positioned laterally in the rear of the vehicle outside the bodywork.
Activating the system
A switch in the cockpit allows you to select the type of fuel, check the level of methane in the tanks and receive information on any anomalies.
Power test bench returned the same values as the original petrol setting. On the road there were no changes in driving behavior.