Auto technicians and mechanics don’t have to look far to find the label: CNG-powered vehicle. Many city buses, some fleets run by Oklahoma companies, even a few private cars are powered by compressed natural gas.
“The U.S. currently ranks 17th in the world of total NGVs (natural gas vehicles),” said Brad Walker, automotive technology professor. “At the end of 2011 there were 15.2 million [vehicles] in the world… according to NGV Global.”
In Oklahoma, compressed natural gas is an abundant resource because it is a by-product of petroleum, which Oklahoma produces.
“It is what they call an alternative fuel,” said John Claybon, OCCC professional development institute consultant. “It’s very clean, has a lot less carbon emissions than traditional gasoline or diesel powered vehicles, and it’s a domestic resource.” CNG also costs less, Claybon said.
CNG can be found anywhere from 79 cents to $1.39 per gallon. Because of all of these factors, it is becoming more popular in the automobile industry, he said.
For this reason, CNG-certified mechanics have an extra set of skills to offer an employer.
“There is an obvious trend for CNG … people to get certified,” Claybon said. Now they can do that at OCCC by taking a week of evening classes.
For the first time, CNG Certification classes will be offered in the evening, from 6 until 9:30 p.m. Oct. 21 through 26 The class cost $450, which includes the certification course, instructional materials, and the state certification, Claybon said.
Walker said the class is limited to six students.
“… we have to limit it to six is because there is a lot of hands-on with it,” Walker.
Five are currently enrolled in the evening session.
Although the program is four years old, this will be the first time the certification classes will be available at night.
“We have about a 95 percent pass rate,” Walker said.
In the course students will cover the state regulations for working with CNG. The many hands-on activities will include: safety, fuel characteristics, system descriptions and operation, fuel-line bending, system diagnosis, and system inspection and regulations.
“The technicians get to work hands-on with training mockups of CNG systems,” Claybon said.
“We have three CNG vehicles that we use, so students actually get to work on ‘road worthy’ vehicles,” Claybon said. This gives students the opportunity to practice on the systems before they take their certification test.
Students will take their written test over the state guidelines on the last day of the course. However, they will take a hands-on assessment consisting of five different stations after the second day. A 100 percent pass rate on the hands-on portion is required for students to receive their certification, Walker said.
Tube bending, leak testing, and defueling will be some of the stations.
Claybon said students should qualify for certification at the end of the training.
“So basically what this program does is, after they go through the class they are able to sit through the assessment. We take all that information, we take their results from their tests along with their prerequisites … certificates, documentation from current employer … and we submit them to the Alternative Fuel Technician Committee,” Claybon said.
By making a 100 percent on their hands-on assessments and an 80 percent on their 75-question written test, their scores will be submitted to the Alternative Fuel Technician Committee for certification.
Students who would like to become CNG certified need to have a background in the automotive field.
“Technicians with at least one or two years experience, preferably with engine performance, and electronics, either one of them or both of them, preferably,” Claybon said.
CNG certification is essential to any person who would like to work on CNG systems in the workplace.
“Any technician working in the state of Oklahoma on a CNG vehicle has to be state certified,” Claybon said. “CNG operates at a very high pressure …
“We want to make sure that the technicians understand that and know how to work with those systems.”
For more information con- tact Claybon at 405-682-7855 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.