April 26, 2016

Driving Down Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On Friday April 22, leaders from 175 countries gathered in New York to sign the Paris Agreement, which was brokered at COP 21 last December. This means that over 85 per cent of the world’s nations have committed to large reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the next 15 years and to actions to limit any increase in global warming to 2°C.

At the signing ceremony, U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, pointed directly to the private sector when he discussed the Agreement, saying: “It is the unmistakable signal that innovation, entrepreneurial activity, the allocation of capital, the decisions that governments make, all of this is what we now know definitively is what is going to define the new energy future… The power of this agreement is what it is going to do to unleash the private sector, and it is already doing to set in pace the global economy on a new path for smart, responsible, sustainable development.”

These pledges and comments may be headline grabbing but what does this all mean in real terms for the transportation industry? In this edition of Fuel for Thought, Karen Hamberg, Westport’s Vice President Industry and Government Relations, explains how Westport is leading the transition to a low carbon economy and the environmental benefits we can expect from next generation natural gas engine and vehicle technology. 

Karen Hamberg, VP of Industry and Government Relations

Sustainability and a low carbon economy

Sustainability is at the core of Westport’s business. We are seeing a heightened focus on the environmental performance of the transportation sector on a global scale with these pivotal commitments to the Paris Agreement. As the drive for increased engine efficiency, improved urban air quality and GHG emission reductions increases more pressure is placed on engine and vehicle manufacturers. This, in turn, increases opportunities for us to innovate in order to take a leading role in the transition to a low carbon economy.

Earth Day took place on April 22 and coincided with the signing of the Paris Agreement

So what are we doing to achieve this?

1. Collaborating with key industry partners

We contribute to technical working groups, committees, and advisory panels to learn from other experts, share our expertise and help to build a body of knowledge about the benefits of natural gas vehicles.

A few examples
  • Member of Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), a global non-profit organization that works with more than 250 member companies to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration.
  • Founding member of the Future of Fuels working group, which exists to identify and promote transportation fuel pathways that enhance the sustainability and availability of emerging alternative fuel choices
  • A close working relationship with the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF)  and a contributor to their series of studies, which calculates the full climate impact of natural gas to develop  credible and defensible data about natural gas vehicles and fueling stations. This includes a  better understanding the source and quantity of methane emissions along the natural gas supply chain.[1]

2. Innovating to Help OEMs Meet Strict New Targets

To reduce GHG emissions and meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, the commercial vehicle industry faces a steep challenge. Original Equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to find cost-effective ways to reduce both GHG emissions and conventional emissions such as NOx and particulate matter without compromising vehicle performance and utility.

In the United States, the stringent upcoming EPA/NHTSA Phase Two GHG Regulations 
will introduce new targets for fuel efficiency that will shift the burden of compliance on OEMs away from the engine and onto the vehicle as a whole. These regulations aim to cut GHG emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons, which equates to the amount of CO2 produced to power 83.3 million U.S. family homes for a year, and are set to start rolling out in model year (MY) 2021.

Under the draft Phase 2 rule, Westport’s natural gas engine and vehicle technologies are a strong pathway to the long-term reduction of COemissions that will enable OEMs to exceed the stringent new limits set for light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

Matt Godlewski, the President of Natural Gas Vehicles for America, agrees.
“As OEMs strive to create vehicles that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the new EPA standards, innovative engineering will be crucial. New natural gas technology, such as the engines Westport’s developing, will provide solutions that reduce emissions, are more cost-effective than electrification, and will stay ahead of the curve with upcoming regulations.”

3. Developing solutions: Westport’s Next Gen Products

Our next-generation natural gas engine and vehicle technologies offer compelling energy, environmental, and sustainability benefits, including GHG emissions reduction. Here is a snap shot of some of the exciting products nearing commercialization.

WestportTM High Pressure Direct Injection Technology (HPDI 2.0)

The new HPDI injector technology which will lower costs, increase performance and offer improved durability

HPDI 2.0 will be optimum for heavy-duty vehicles and has been developed for integration on factory-built original equipment manufacturer (OEM) engines and trucks.

  • The only natural gas technology capable of delivering high performance and low fuel consumption equivalent to that of current heavy duty diesel engines
  • Limits unburnt methane emissions to less than 0.2% of total fuel flow via its highly efficient combustion process

ISL G Near Zero NOx 8.9L engine

The 8.9L Near Zero NOx engine, which is a joint venture with Cummins Inc., is currently in the late stages of field testing

This engine from Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI), which is available to order in 2016, removes a significant source of methane emissions via the use of closed crankcase ventilation (CCV) technology.


  • A 70% reduction in engine related methane emissions
  • Delivers near-zero NOx emissions performance. NOx emissions from the ISL G Neare Zero are so low that an entire fleet of 1,000 buses equipped with this new engine would have the same NOx emissions as a single 1980s era diesel bus
  • Meets proposed EPA/NHTSA Phase 2 GHG regulations

Enhanced Spark Ignition (ESI) technology

The ESI engine, which utilizes spark ignited architecture, will run on 100% CNG or LNG

In the past, the peak torque output of spark ignited natural gas engines has been 15-25 per cent lower than comparable diesel engines. This is set to change though as Westport’s ESI technology will allow natural gas engines to outperform diesel for the first time.

  • Exceeds the power, torque and performance of state-of-the-art diesel engines
  • Improved fuel economy via engine downsizing and other engine efficiency improvements
  • Allows vehicle OEMs to avoid expensive electrification / hybridization needed with conventional fuels (diesel and gasoline) to be compliant with proposed EPA/NHTSA Phase 2 GHG regulations.

Find out more

We continue to strive to create leading edge technology that exceeds the requirements of legislation, industry codes and standards. Working with our partners, we are committed to delivering low-emission natural gas solutions that will meet our customers’ demands for high-efficiency, high-performance, and low-carbon transportation both now and in the future.

For more information, visit the Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Natural Gas Vehicles section on the Westport website or email Karen

We anticipate that the module study covering natural gas vehicle and fuel stations will be published in 2016.