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

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

Westport Innovations Inc. has announced 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," 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 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," 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 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," 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."

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. 

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