Renewable natural gas fuels 100-plus mixer fleet

In a departure from initial configurations where CNG tanks were mounted horizontally along frame rails, McNeilus engineered the Catalina Pacific mixer with vertical tanks. The design uses the Kenworth T880S model’s back of cab space without sacrificing rear visibility.

CalPortland® Co. is altering the profile of ready mixed delivery on its southern California home turf. Throughout the second half of 2017, flagship concrete business Catalina Pacific® logged the largest compressed natural gas-fueled mixer truck order to date: 118 Kenworth T880S-mounted, 10.5-yd. McNeilus Bridgemaster Transit models, running Cummins Westport Near-Zero ISL G natural gas engines.

The delivery accounted for a good portion of Kenworth’s initial T880S production and positioned Catalina Pacific with the second largest CNG mixer truck fleet in North America—behind Illinois’ Ozinga Ready Mix Concrete Inc. It was timed with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and State of California incentives for diesel power unit replacement and new commercial vehicles running engines with emissions profiles below even the EPA 2010 thresholds.

Representatives from the Office of Governor Jerry Brown were among participants in an official CNG mixer fleet launch Catalina Pacific staged late last year at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. CalPortland CEO Allen Hamblen framed the business against the Olympic Games’ history and future: “Catalina Pacific provided the original concrete in the 1920s for the construction of this iconic stadium with our innovative mixer trucks. We provided the concrete for the construction of many new venues when the Olympics returned to Los Angeles in 1984. We are poised to serve the City of Los Angeles with this new ‘clean fuel’ technology as the Olympics return in 2028.”

Fueling b max crop

After a first-quarter ramp up of larger equipment for the Alameda plant’s 40 natural gas mixers, Ozinga Energy completed CNG fueling infrastructure—gas transfer, treatment, compressors and time-fill supply lines—at Catalina Pacific’s Normandie plant in June.

Clean Energy stations serve CNG mixers based at four other plants. In addition to supplying Redeem fuel for the entire Catalina Pacific CNG fleet, Clean Energy has a fueling infrastructure maintenance contract covering the Normandie and Alameda plants. PHOTO: Clean Energy Fuels Corp.

“Catalina Pacific’s transition to a fleet of compressed natural gas-fueled mixers contributes to the attainment of greenhouse gas and NOx reduction goals set forth by the California Legislature, California Air Resources Board and other regional and local agencies. By selecting engines fueled by natural gas over diesel, Catalina Pacific continues to demonstrate ongoing commitment to the environment, community, and safety of our employees.”


A top ready mixed player in Los Angeles and Orange counties, Catalina Pacific is firmly on a “Road to Zero (Emissions)” by implementing the latest in clean engine technology. Compared to an EPA 2010-compliant diesel engine of the same rating, the markedly quieter Cummins Westport 9L package reduces Agency-designated greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent and NOx emissions by 90 percent. The 8.9-liter engine is also compatible with renewable natural gas (RNG), further curtailing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kenworth T880S entered full production as Catalina Pacific weighed CNG power. Coupled with the ISL G Near Zero engine, the T880S offers the producer optimal payload capacity and truck maneuverability, due especially to the set-forward axle. McNeilus Cos. partnered with Kenworth on a mixer and chassis design accounting for the ISL G, CNG fuel system and requirements specific to a major California concrete fleet. The result is a T880S-mounted 10.5-yd. Bridgemaster and McNeilus NGEN twin vertical compressed natural gas system, affording operators an enhanced, high capacity, low profile back-of-cab configuration.

The new Catalina Pacific mixer trucks run on Redeem RNG from Clean Energy Fuels Corp. in Newport Beach, Calif. Redeem is derived from biogenic methane emanating from decomposition of organic waste at landfills, wastewater treatment plants and agricultural waste sources, primarily dairy farms. Clean Energy sources Redeem from 30 facilities across the country, and in 2017 delivered RNG equivalent to 80 million gallons of diesel fuel.

Cabinet d best crop

Redeem renewable natural gas, supplied by Clean Energy through Southern California Gas Co. lines, is piped to a dryer at the Normandie station, then enters a chamber at 30 psi for 3:1 compression. Compressed gas at 90-120 psi is fed to the time fill station lines. The McNeilus NGEN tanks are full when pressure reaches 3,600 psi.


A natural gas fueling infrastructure business grown in-house at Illinois-based Ozinga Bros. Inc., Ozinga Energy designed the Normandie plant with twin compressors, each driven by 125-hp motors. They operate on alternating days and yield 2.2 gallons per minute, based on a Catalina Pacific-prescribed cycle. In addition to main time fill/mixer truck island lines, the Normandie compressors also charge a spherical tank supplying an adjacent, single-vehicle fast fill station—available for mixer trucks running low on fuel during normal operating hours, or smaller vehicles with CNG power.


Pivotal to any ready mixed producer’s adoption of natural gas-fueled truck power is investment in internal fueling infrastructure or plant proximity to fleet-friendly commercial CNG fueling stations. Gas is measured in diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) as a reflection of initial and post-duty cycle(s) fuel tank psi levels. To keep natural gas compressors below power consumption peaks affecting electricity rates, a plant-based fueling system typically is designed as “time fill,” with trucks a) clustered around gas line- and port-bearing island; and, b) refueling overnight to tank psi targets.

Catalina Pacific has internal and commercial CNG fuel supplies. It contracted with an engineering, construction and service specialist, Ozinga Energy, to build fueling infrastructure and stations at its Alameda and Normandie plants, serving downtown Los Angeles and the Long Beach area. Ozinga Energy emerged from a three-year program in which Ozinga Ready Mix Concrete built CNG supply, compressor and fueling infrastructure at five plants in northern Illinois and Indiana, including its largest sites, Mokena, Ill. (headquarters) and Chinatown (downtown Chicago).

The Alameda and Normandie plants are respectively equipped with compressor capacity and fueling islands for 40 and 23 mixers. They refuel off hours in time fill mode. The remaining CNG mixers are based at Catalina Pacific’s Canoga Park, El Segundo, LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and Sun Valley plants. They refuel in “fast fill” mode—five gallons or DGE per minute—at Clean Energy public stations located one to five miles from the plants. The McNeilus NGEN fuel system has 75 DGE capacity, although drivers fill to 30 gallons for a typical day and routing. The new Catalina Pacific mixers are projected to consume an average of 75,000 gallons of Redeem monthly, displacing upwards of 8,400 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

“CalPortland has been a trailblazer in sustainable initiatives, and to date has made the largest investment in natural gas vehicles within the concrete industry in the western United States,” notes Clean Energy Vice President of Sales Chad Lindholm. “By converting its fleet to the new clean natural gas engine technology and Redeem, CalPortland will dramatically reduce the amount of smog and greenhouse gases it produces.”

“Switching to zero emission engines fueled by renewable natural gas instead of diesel has been a real game changer,” affirms Allen Hamblen. “We look forward to continued exploration of clean alternatives that will make a positive impact on the environment and demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the community.”

Along with site preparation for natural gas supply, compressors, fueling equipment and lines, Catalina Pacific® upgraded the Normandie Ave. ready mixed plant in Torrance, Calif., with the installation of a KVA 750 transformer and power distribution switchboard (shown here). With 1,600-amp capacity—double the prior service—the new equipment is equal to existing loads and any peaks encountered in the event the CNG fueling infrastructure must run at full duty (2.2 gallons/minute per compressor). The principal power draws in the natural gas delivery to the mixer truck tanks are the twin compressors’ 125-hp motors (opposite page), operated on alternate days.