Westport Innovations Inc.

Westport Innovations Inc.

May 25, 2005 06:00 ET

Westport Deploys Next-Generation Natural Gas Trucks Along Ontario 'Clean Air Corridor'

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - May 25, 2005) - Westport Innovations Inc. (TSX:WPT) today announced the deployment of its next-generation heavy-duty truck technology along Highway 401, Canada's busiest thoroughfare. Westport's advanced natural gas engines are enabling the cleanest heavy-duty truck fleet powered by alternative fuel while offering customers in Canada and abroad the promise of relief from rising oil prices.

The deployment is part of a development and demonstration project that received funding of $1 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a foundation created by the Government of Canada that operates a $550 million fund to support clean technologies that address issues of climate change, clean air, water and soil quality. In addition, an investment of $2 million has been leveraged by a Westport-led consortium, for a total project value of $3 million. Consortium members include Challenger Motor Freight Inc., Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada.

"We and our partners are showing industry, government and the public that new, made-in-Canada solutions are available to combat mounting fuel costs, urban air pollution and challenges brought on by climate change," said Westport President Dr. Michael Gallagher. "Around the world, transportation relies on oil for nearly 100 percent of its growing fuel needs. We think it is critical to begin diversifying our fuel sources. Westport engines fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) offer a tremendous opportunity for heavy-duty truck transportation since they provide direct environmental benefits with the potential for lower fuel costs."

Challenger Motor Freight Inc., based in Cambridge, Ontario, will operate five new Volvo trucks equipped with 450-horsepower Cummins ISX engines using Westport's High-Pressure Direct-Injection (HPDI) technology. Fuelled by LNG, the trucks will travel Canada-US routes between Ontario and Michigan, routes dubbed by the project partners as "The Clean Air Corridor". A new LNG fuel station has been installed at Challenger's truck terminal in London, Ontario to support fueling of the trucks during the one-year demonstration project.

Natural Resources Canada has supported this technology for many years, and announced its contribution of $400,000 to the project through its Market Development Incentive Payments Fund in June 2003.

"The Government of Canada encourages all Canadians to do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. For the transportation industry, the Clean Air Corridor is a great opportunity to exploit Canada's lead in using natural gas as a vehicle fuel," said the Honourable R. John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. "As well, by allowing fleet managers and truck owners to take advantage of alternative transportation fuels, Westport's LNG engine technology can improve competitiveness while reducing operating costs and emissions."

Vicky J. Sharpe, President and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada said road freight transportation is a crucial and growing sector of the Canadian economy. "SDTC is supporting the development and demonstration of the Westport consortium's technology because it has strong potential to deliver made-in-Canada benefits in terms of reducing local air pollutants and greenhouse gases in trucking as well as other transportation sectors," said Sharpe.

HPDI trucks match the power, torque, and fuel efficiency of current state-of-the-art diesel trucks but with significantly reduced emissions. This field demonstration project follows the successful field trial of Westport's first-generation HPDI engines that began almost four years ago in California. Since then, Norcal Waste's fleet of 13 trucks in San Francisco have logged more than 6.5 million kilometres (4.2 million miles) of in-service operation hauling city waste from a transfer station to the landfill and reducing smog-forming emissions of nitrogen oxides and unburned hydrocarbons (NOx and NMHC) by more than 20 tonnes.

The Challenger HPDI trucks incorporate several major improvements over those first-generation vehicles, demonstrating improved vehicle performance, lower emissions and higher reliability. New features include the first deployment of Westport's proprietary low heat-leak LNG tanks with integrated LNG pumps, higher pressure improved common-rail injection system for better combustion and emissions at all operating conditions, and a high reliability integrated fuel conditioning module (FCM) that monitors and regulates fuel flow to the engine. By carefully coupling these design features with the advanced turbocharger and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) control from the Cummins diesel engine, the next generation HPDI system has increased power and torque ratings of 450 horsepower and 1,650 lb-ft with efficiency with the same or better fuel economy of the latest diesel engines.

Together, the new technology is expected to produce 50 percent lower emissions of NOx compared to the first generation systems while retaining particulate matter (PM) at approximately 80 percent lower than today's environmental standards. In addition to combining low NOx and PM with high fuel efficiency, the HPDI system also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 25 per cent compared to equivalent diesel trucks. This emissions reduction is due largely to the HPDI technology substituting natural gas for diesel fuel in the combustion process, with a small amount of diesel fuel injected to provide ignition.

The Clean Air Corridor truck launch will take place at the Toronto Convention Centre in conjunction with the EECO 2005 Environment and Energy Conference. Government and business leaders are gathering for the conference to discuss how to balance the growing demand for energy with the need to protect the environment within the Great Lakes Region and beyond.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tightened emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel engines considerably in the last few years and continues to do so. For 2002, heavy-duty diesel engines were required to meet a combined NOx and non-methane hydrocarbon level of 2.5 grams per brake horsepower-hour (g/bhp-hr). The EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) have called for all heavy-duty vehicles to meet emissions of NOx and PM of 0.2 g/bhp-hr and 0.01 g/bhp-hr respectively by 2010. As part of a phased approach to meet the 2010 emissions standards, heavy-duty engine manufacturers will produce products that achieve HPDI equivalent NOx levels of 1.2g/bhp-hr in 2007, and are considering the use of exhaust aftertreatment systems on diesel engines, initially for PM and potentially for NOx in 2010.

Today's diesel vehicle fleet in North America operates between 2.2 to 5 g/bhp-hr of NOx and 0.1 g/bhp-hr of PM. Older trucks typically have much higher emissions than new vehicles. Westport's LNG engines offer emissions performance not expected from diesel engines until 2007.

Westport expects its natural gas technologies will continue to provide benefits past 2007/2010. Chief among these are: decreased reliance on oil for high fuel use applications such as commercial trucking, the historically lower cost of natural gas than diesel and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, natural gas engines, with their lower engine-out emissions, will not require the same challenging and penalizing exhaust aftertreatment devices to achieve the EPA and CARB 2007/2010 emissions targets.

Gallagher said natural gas has been the focal point for Westport technology from the start because it represents a safe, abundant, low-carbon fuel that can be transported worldwide as a liquid. He added that the economics of LNG distribution are poised to offer fleet customers a significant favourable price gap between diesel fuel in the years ahead.

LNG provides two-and-a-half times the energy storage as the same volume of compressed natural gas (CNG), which allows for on-board fuel capacity on the Challenger trucks to achieve 500-mile (800 km) range. While LNG production in North America is limited to approximately 100 facilities, there is growing interest in developing LNG import terminals to provide abundant lower-cost gas to enter the market. LNG imports to the United States made up less than two per cent of the gas consumed in 2004, but analysts predict that LNG imports will account for 15 to 20 percent of US natural gas consumption by 2025. In Canada alone, there are eight active proposals for LNG terminals.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is supporting the Westport demonstration through its Fleet Vehicle Program that encourages the efficient use of energy and alternative transportation fuels. Terri Morgan of the Fleet Vehicle Program, noted that Highway 401 is one of the busiest truck routes in North America, with volumes exceeding 40,000 trucks a day.

The Clean Air Corridor is an initiative of several industry and government partners, which include:

Westport Innovations Inc., the leading developer of environmental technologies that allow engines to operate on clean burning fuels such as natural gas, hydrogen, and hydrogen-enriched natural gas (HCNG). Westport has technology development alliances in place with Ford, MAN, BMW, and Isuzu, as well as an ownership interest in Clean Energy, the largest provider of natural gas for vehicles in North America. Cummins Westport Inc., Westport's joint venture with Cummins Inc., manufactures and sells the world's widest range of low-emissions alternative fuel engines for commercial transportation applications such as trucks and buses.

Challenger Motor Freight Inc., recent winner of Canada's 50 Best Managed companies (2001-2004) is the largest privately owned trucking company in Canada. Challenger provides a full range of transportation, logistics, and integrated services to Canadian, U.S., and Mexican markets. As a recognized leader in the field of safety, Challenger has often been involved with pilot projects involving safety, technology, and environmental issues.

Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., Canada's largest natural gas distribution company, provides natural gas to about 1.7 million industrial, commercial, and residential customers in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and New York State. It is owned and operated by Enbridge Inc., a leader in energy transportation and distribution in North America and internationally.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a foundation created by the Government of Canada that operates a $550 million fund to support the development and demonstration of clean technologies that address issues of climate change, clean air, water quality, and soil. These solutions deliver environmental, economic, and health benefits to Canadians. An arm's length, not-for-profit corporation, SDTC bridges the gap in the innovation chain between research and commercialization - helping clean technology developers move through the development and demonstration phases, in preparation for commercialization. SDTC applies a stringent due diligence process when selecting technologies to support, and requires every applicant to involve a consortium of partners in their project. SDTC encourages collaboration among private, financial, academic and public sector partners and with the Government of Canada and all levels of government to build a sustainable development technology infrastructure in Canada. (www.sdtc.ca)

Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) plays a pivotal role in helping shape the important contributions of the natural resources sector to the Canadian economy, society and environment. NRCan conducts innovative science to generate ideas and transfer technologies, and represents Canada's international interests to meet our global commitments related to natural resources. By promoting the responsible use of our natural resources, NRCan builds on the Government of Canada's commitment to ensuring the quality of life in our communities, a healthy environment, and continued economic prosperity.

Transport Canada

Transport Canada works to help ensure that Canadians have a safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation system. As part of the Government of Canada's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, Transport Canada's Freight Sustainability Demonstration Program supports the demonstration and evaluation of tools, technologies and best practices that reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions from the freight transportation sector.

Note: This document contains forward-looking statements about Westport's business, operations, technology development or to the environment in which it operates, which are based on Westport's estimates, forecasts, and projections. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict, or are beyond Westport's control. Consequently, readers should not place any undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. In addition, these forward-looking statements relate to the date on which they are made. Westport disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Contact Information

  • Westport Innovations Inc.
    Charlie Ker
    Director, External Affairs
    (604) 718-2046
    Challenger Motor Freight Inc.
    Enno Jakobson
    Vice President, Risk Management
    (519) 658-5154 ext. 2232
    Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc.
    Lisa McCarney, Manager, Media and External Relations
    Enbridge Gas Distribution
    (416) 495-5662
    Sustainable Development Technology Canada
    Andree Mongeon
    Director of Communications
    (613) 234-6313 ext 224
    Natural Resources Canada
    Ghyslain Charron
    Media Relations, Ottawa
    (613) 992-4447
    Transport Canada
    Chris Krepski
    A/Senior Communications Advisor, Ottawa
    (613) 993-2906