Cambridge, Ontario-based truckload carrier Challenger Motor Freight is road-testing new heavy-duty natural gas engines designed by Westport Innovations as part of a government project to deploy more non-petroleum based engines.
Challenger plans to operate five new Volvo Class 8 trucks equipped with 450-hp Cummins ISX engines using Westport’s High-Pressure Direct-Injection (HPDI) technology. Fueled by liquid natural gas (LNG), the trucks are slated to travel between Ontario and Michigan along Highway 401, Canada’s busiest thoroughfare. A new LNG fuel station has been installed at Challenger's truck terminal in London, Ontario to support fueling of the trucks during this demonstration project, said Westport’s president Michael Gallagher.
“Around the world, transportation relies on oil for nearly 100% of its growing fuel needs. We think it is critical to begin diversifying our fuel sources,” Gallagher said. “Westport engines fuelled by liquefied natural gas offer a tremendous opportunity for heavy-duty truck transportation since they provide direct environmental benefits with the potential for lower fuel costs.”
Gallagher noted that HPDI trucks match the power, torque, and fuel efficiency of current diesel trucks but with significantly reduced emissions. However, Challenger’s HPDI trucks incorporate several major improvements over the first generation of the technology tested by Westport four years ago in conjunction with tractors operated by Norcal Waste Systems.
New features include the first use of 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, said Gallagher.
By carefully coupling these design features with the advanced turbocharger and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) control of the Cummins diesel engine, the next generation HPDI system has increased power and torque ratings of 450 hp and 1,650 lb-ft with the same or better fuel economy of the latest diesel engines, Gallagher said.
Together, the new technology is expected to produce 50% lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) compared to the first generation systems while retaining particulate matter (PM) at approximately 80% lower than today’s environmental standards, Gallagher explained. In addition to combining low NOx and PM with high fuel efficiency, the HPDI system also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20% to 25%, because the HPDI technology substitutes natural gas for diesel fuel in the combustion process.
Challenger’s year-long road test is being funded in part by a $1 million grant from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a foundation created by the Government of Canada that operates a $550 million fund to support the development of clean technologies, A further $2 million for Challenger’s road test is coming from the partners involved in this project: Westport, Challenger, Enbridge Gas Distribution, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada.