September 30, 2013

A pickup truck with an LNG tank? That’s very cool.

Expect a few double-takes at the Westport booth during the ICUEE Demo Expo in Louisville this week, when we debut a very ‘cool’ prototype: a Ford F-550 bi-fuel operating on gasoline or liquefied natural gas (LNG). You read that right – LNG.

This concept vehicle is believed to be the first of its kind, and will feature the Westport™ iCE PACK LNG Tank System, designed for use with spark ignited vehicles. Westport currently produces the Westport™ WiNG Power System, which is also bi-fuel, but uses compressed natural gas or gasoline.

“This would be a vehicle for companies that want to operate purely on LNG, because they’ve got both heavy duty and light duty fleets.” says John Howell, Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development at Westport. “It’s a prototype and would appeal to a very specialized type of customer, because not everyone will need this.”

Current industry standard systems require warm (saturated) LNG. The Westport iCE PACK offers fuel-flexibility with the ability to carry both cold and warm LNG. By carrying fuel as cold LNG, it can extend fuel storage times and improve vehicle range by up to 10 percent.

Assembled at Westport’s technical centre in Plymouth, Michigan, the concept vehicle features a lengthened service body and 70 gallon tank. While Westport iCE PACK was originally developed as a product for Class 8 over the road vehicles – and optimized for the Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine – the idea for this configuration was raised by a major fleet company currently using LNG, who were interested to see if it could be done.

“It was an opportunity for Westport to demonstrate our ability to innovate and be flexible,” says Steve Anderson, Vice President of Business Development at Westport. “In the past, this wasn’t an option for light duty vehicles, but with iCE PACK we now have a low pressure LNG system. We’re interested to see what kind of interest there is from other fleets similar to our prototype partner.”

Visiting the Demo Expo? Come by and see us at Booth N2001.

September 26, 2013

Building Your Business Case for Natural Gas: A Case Study - Westport Webinar

Ten months ago, Mark Huff, president of Tri-Star Construction in Tulsa, Oklahoma, started making the switch to natural gas vehicles for his fleet. He estimates that in less than one year, it’s saved his business about 40 percent in fuel costs.

As his natural gas fleet is less than a year old, Mark says he’ll have a better idea what the overall savings are once he completes a full tax year. Still, he believes it’s making a difference to his bottom line, and that it could eventually mean big savings for his company and his customers.

“Anything we can do to save, we’ll pass along to our customers,” he says. “We sometimes do $1 million to $2 million jobs, and if you can shave one to two percent off bids, that’s big money. It’s a win for everyone.”

On October 10, Mark will be sharing his experience in a free Westport webinar, Building Your Business Case for Natural Gas: A Case Study. Before switching to natural gas, Mark spent about six months crunching the numbers and assessing if natural gas was the right option for his fleet of Ford F-250s.

During the webinar, Mark will outline the process he undertook and the analytics he used in order to make a decision that was best for his business and his customers.

“I went to a compressed natural gas (CNG) summit where several businesses in Tulsa that had already adopted CNG were speaking” Mark says about his first step towards adopting a natural gas fleet. “Everybody who’s made the change is positive.”

Another ongoing benefit Mark has seen – literally – from operating a natural gas fleet, which includes four Westport WiNG™ Power System bi-fuel Ford F-250s, is a reduced cost in maintenance. For instance, he believes his trucks need far fewer oil changes than those running purely on gasoline.

“We’ve been draining the oil at 3,000 miles and it looks brand new,” Mark explains. “I’ve seen the oil at 5,000 miles and it looks brand new. They run so clean that I’d be confident saying they could go 7,000 miles between oil changes. It’s another perk.”

If you’re considering the shift to natural gas and would like to hear about a real-life case study, please register for this free webinar here.

September 23, 2013

Europe’s Natural Gas Vehicle Industry Stakeholders Meet this November in Amsterdam

European stakeholders across the supply chain are preparing for the 2nd Annual Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Conference and Exhibition on November 25-26 in Amsterdam. This is Westport’s second year at the event and we’re excited to have another opportunity to encourage expanding Europe’s NGV market.

Along with promoting natural gas as a viable transportation fuel, this year’s NGV Conference and Expo will have a strong focus on informing fleet customers of the benefits that switching to natural gas can bring to their businesses.

Westport’s Director of Market Development, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Nad├Ęge Leclercq says, “We like the idea of fleet operators being better informed about the possibilities and advantages of using natural gas as a vehicle fuel, because today most of the transportation companies are not aware. At this event they will be able to learn from major European companies that are already using natural gas vehicles. We believe it will be very valuable to share this experience.”

Contributing to this goal is Gordon Exel, Westport’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Americas and EMEA, who’ll be speaking at the conference. Attendees will also hear expert insights and outlooks from organisations such as Volvo Trucks, Gazprom Export, Daimler AG and the European Commission among many other key market players.

The event’s aim is to provide solutions for Europe’s transportation industry and show fleet organisations how to effectively and seamlessly integrate natural gas fuel into their operations.

Fleet owners and operators will learn about important gas engine technology updates and current investments in expanding the fuelling infrastructure network from senior level attendees representing the leading fleets, gas producers, utilities, fuel distributors and infrastructure developers. Owners and operators will also have a chance to connect with other transportation and fleet companies who’ve already made the switch to natural gas-fuelled fleets.

The demand for NGVs and infrastructure is growing, and with Europe’s increasingly stricter emissions standards, the NGV conference is more pertinent than ever. NGVs can significantly contribute to Europe’s CO2 emission reduction objectives. In January 2013, the European Commission announced plans for a network of compressed and liquefied natural gas refuelling stations covering the whole European Union.

Don’t wait… Mark your calendar and visit the Natural Gas Vehicle Conference website to register for the event!

September 17, 2013

Environmental Defense Fund and University of Texas release Production Module Results for Methane Leakage

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) yesterday released the results of the first module of a multi-partner study on methane emissions in the natural gas fuel chain, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This study provides another important data source to assess fugitive methane emissions associated with natural gas production. According to the study results, the methane leakage rate is 2,300 gigagrams (Gg) or 0.42% of gross production, which aligns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) latest estimates of 2,545 Gg (2011 national emissions inventory).

It’s also interesting to note that 99% of methane that could potentially be emitted is captured (or prevented from being emitted to the atmosphere), showing the progress already made by the industry. Pneumatic controllers and equipment leakage at the production site have been singled out as ongoing sources of methane emissions, giving the industry direction on where more reductions can be made.

This module is part of a series of studies that will assess the entire natural gas production, processing and supply chain. The “pump to wheels” module is expected to be released early/mid 2014. Westport is a partner in this effort and is supplying technical support to West Virginia University researchers who are field testing vehicles with Westport and Cummins Westport engines.

Westport is participating in the EDF study to improve understanding of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction benefits of commercial and heavy duty natural gas vehicles and fueling stations. Studies like this, with a range of industry partners like Shell, Volvo, Westport, Cummins Westport and fleet operators, offer the opportunity to collect data under real-world operating conditions. The study is being rigorously peer-reviewed, and will advance industry and academic knowledge about the GHG emissions reduction benefits of heavy-duty natural gas vehicles. Each of the modules will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the potential for methane leakage and opportunities for innovation and improvement.

The use of natural gas in transportation is a relatively new market; one that is evolving and improving and with the potential for deeper GHG emission reductions compared to diesel. These types of collaborations will help advance the industry, drive improvements across engines, vehicles and stations and uncover best practices to further safeguard the environmental advantages of natural gas.

September 11, 2013

Westport and EMD - Developing a Future of Natural Gas-Powered Locomotives

Getting a 4600 horsepower locomotive engine to run on natural gas isn’t something that happens every day. But that’s what Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) and Westport achieved this summer when both companies ran the EMD multi-cylinder 710 HPDI locomotive engine at the LaGrange facility. Westport also has a test rig in Vancouver.

EMD is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of diesel-electric locomotives. In December 2011, the company joined Westport, Canadian National Railway (CN) and Gaz Metro in a collaboration to demonstrate a natural gas locomotive. The work is part of a consortium project supported by $2.3 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to test Westport™ high pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology for use in high-horsepower applications.

Marti Lenz, EMD’s Director of Engine Systems, leads the project for the company from their engine testing facility in LaGrange, Illinois.

“Westport is the lead, but as the OEM we’ve got a team put together helping to ensure that the engine requirements are met and that we have a robust solution when we demonstrate this on CN in the latter part of 2014,” Marti said.

Part of the rigorous testing process currently underway involves ensuring the engine meets all of its performance parameters and emissions targets.
The EMD multi-cylinder 710 HPDI locomotive engine at the LaGrange facility in Illinois. 
According to the United Nations Statistics Division, railroads around the world burn 9 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually, largely in the transportation of freight. The development of natural gas fuelled locomotives could reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and costs associated with transporting the world’s primary resources and manufactured goods. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) produces up to 27 per cent fewer Green House Gas emissions and is currently cheaper than diesel.

Westport designed, built and installed the Westport HPDI fuel system on the engine and is also working on a high-pressure tender to carry the fuel. David Mumford, Westport’s Senior Director Off-Road Partner Development, says the technology is well-suited to high horsepower applications.

“This project is an entry point into the high horsepower world that demonstrates how Westport™ HPDI can successfully fuel engines with 10 times the horsepower of our heavy haul trucking while successfully meeting emissions.”
Westport's high horsepower locomotive test rig in Vancouver, British Columbia.
EMD first began investigating natural gas as a fuel for their engines in the 1990s.

“We got to the point where the thing that was holding us up was the fuel injector,” Marti said. “Westport had the technology to have a good fuel injector – it makes the whole thing do-able.”

EMD has a heritage of selling locomotives around the world. The company sells locomotives in over 70 countries with over 62,000 sales over the past 80 years. About 25,000 EMD locomotives are currently in use in North America.

Both Westport and EMD will be at the High Horsepower Summit in Chicago from September 17 – 19. EMD will be offering a tour of its LaGrange engine facility to key EMD rail and marine customers on an invitation only basis on the afternoon of Monday, September 16. 

September 6, 2013

Westport at Work: Load Lifter

A Canadian company with products working in a range of climates and off-highway applications around the world, Load Lifter designs and manufactures rough terrain forklifts. Their machines are used in a wide range of industries such as construction, mining, forestry, utility and agriculture.

Just over a year ago, Load Lifter’s President Hedley Thomas was researching alternative fuels for diesel engines and came across Westport’s 2.4 litre industrial engine. It runs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) and integrates multipoint fuel injection (MPI) technology with Hyundai Motor Company's automotive engine platform.

“We decided to give Westport product a try,” said Dave Tughan, Load Lifter’s Operations Manager. “The experience with this engine compared to our past engines has been much better. It performs better and is more technologically advanced.”

Based in Stouffville, Ontario, just east of Toronto, Load Lifter is a family business run by Hedley, his three sons and Dave. Canadian utility companies are among Load Lifter’s customers, who use their forklifts to drive through extreme weather conditions and difficult terrain.
Deep mud? No problem for Load Lifter's forklifts which are designed to work in extreme conditions.
“In our business the primary fuel is diesel,” Dave said. “But there are a lot of applications where people don’t want to use diesel – there’s a perception it’s not as clean.”

Load Lifter’s forklifts are available in both two and four wheel drive. Load Lifter’s customers often work in mud and snow in places like Sherbrooke, Quebec for instance, optimal conditions for the design of their forklifts. By powering the machines with LPG instead of diesel, refueling can be more easily accomplished outside on the worksite by simply switching the propane fuel tank.

“We’re really excited about the relationship with Westport,” Dave said.

If you’d like to learn more about Load Lifter, visit their website at or Stanmore Equipment, which is the retail division of the company. To learn more about Westport’s industrial 2.4L engine, visit the Westport website.
Load Lifter President Hedley Thomas in front of an LPG-powered forklift.