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Westport and Gas Technology Institute awarded US$900 000 to advance natural gas combustion technology

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Westport Innovations Inc. and the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) have announced that they have been awarded US$900 000 towards a programme 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, with a displacement of between 1 and 1.5 l per cylinder, is aimed 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," said 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 programme 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 programme is successful, Westport ESI systems integrating corona discharge technology could become commercially available in as soon as four years."

Of the total programme funding, US$750 000 is from the California Energy Commission (CEC) and US$150 000 is from the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). Westport will contribute approximately US$250 000 in additional funds for a total of US$1.15 million.

"The CEC is committed to supporting the development of advanced transportation technologies that use alternative or renewable fuel sources," said 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 commercialisation 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," said 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."

Edited from press release by

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