Westport Innovations Inc., engineering the world's most advanced natural gas engines and vehicles, announces that, together with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), it has been awarded US$900,000 towards a program to advance state-of-the-art natural gas combustion technology. The work will feature Westport's enhanced spark ignited (ESI) natural gas engine technology and demonstrate "High Frequency Corona Discharge Ignition" on an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner's engine. The engine has a displacement of between 1 and 1.5 liters per cylinder and is targeted at medium-duty commercial vehicle applications.
"Westport ESI technology allows, for the first time, a spark-ignited natural gas engine to exceed the performance of a comparable state-of-the-art diesel engine," says Brad Douville, Vice President Business Development for Westport. "Next generation natural gas engines of this class will be smaller, lighter, lower cost and have even higher performance than modern diesel engines because we can exploit the advantages of natural gas as a high performance fuel with naturally lower emissions challenges. This new program builds on our ESI foundation by integrating corona discharge ignition technology, which opens a number of new opportunities for even higher engine performance, efficiency and reliability at lower maintenance costs than current spark ignition hardware. We would expect that, if this program is successful, Westport ESI systems integrating corona discharge technology could become commercially available in as soon as four years."
Of the total program funding, $750,000 is coming from the California Energy Commission (CEC) and $150,000 is being provided by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). Westport will contribute approximately $250,000 in additional funds for a total of $1.15 million.
"The CEC is committed to supporting the development of advanced transportation technologies that use alternative or renewable fuel sources," says Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller. "These solutions are essential components of the state's strategy to address local air quality issues and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
"SoCalGas supports rapid commercialization of natural gas-powered vehicles as a key strategy to help California's South Coast basin attain clean air standards and greenhouse gas reduction commitments," says Rodger Schwecke, Vice President, Customer Solutions, SoCalGas. "Innovative technology that enables clean-burning natural gas engines, designed for medium-duty commercial trucks to out-perform the power delivery of diesel engines, will facilitate the rapid conversion of truck fleets to natural gas. This will reduce targeted pollutant emissions dramatically."
In addition to providing natural gas to its customers, SoCalGas is actively pursuing the newest and cleanest technologies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and oxide of nitrogen (NOx) emissions. Supporting projects like this helps secure a cleaner environment for California's future.
Westport ESI Combustion Technology
Westport ESI Technology, for the first time, provides vehicle and engine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with a natural gas solution that exceeds the power and torque of the diesel engine upon which it is based. This allows for engine downsizing resulting in a smaller, lighter, more powerful, more fuel efficient and lower emissions package. Using 100% dedicated natural gas as fuel, the technology optimizes the combustion system and thermal management of the engine by taking full advantage of the ultra-high octane performance fuel properties of natural gas. These design changes eliminate challenging features in today's natural gas engines enabling even better durability and reliability levels expected to meet an OEM's extensive engine development requirements. The Westport ESI combustion system is targeted at sub 10L engines for Class 6 and 7 truck applications and is also adaptable for sub 2L applications for use in automotive and non-automotive applications.