HPDI Technology Continues to Spread, This Time to High Horsepower
Westport Innovations and Caterpillar have disclosed long-term agreements whereby Westport’s High Pressure Direct Injection technology allowing engines to run mostly on natural gas will be applied to off-road equipment, starting with mining trucks and locomotives.
“Caterpillar will fund the development program,” states a release. “When the products go to market, Westport expects to participate in the supply of key components.”
“This is a significant opportunity that has the potential to transform important segments of the global off-road equipment industries,” Westport CEO David Demers said in a release.
“The substantial price difference between natural gas and diesel fuel is resulting in a strong financial incentive to enable off-road applications to take advantage of low natural gas energy costs without sacrificing operational performance,” Demers said. “There is also a clear environmental incentive because of the reduced carbon emissions.
“Adding to the solid business case for this program is the potential to convert existing field units to natural gas – opening up a whole new market opportunity.”
Beyond mining trucks and locomotives, the partners are eyeing “electric power, industrial, machine, marine and petroleum applications worldwide.”
“The program positions Caterpillar to become the first manufacturer to bring HPDI technology to the high horsepower off-road market, offer the broadest product line of natural gas-fueled machines and equipment, and capitalize on the attractiveness of natural gas as an alternate mobile fuel – all within the shortest time frame for our customers,” said Caterpillar large power systems VP Steve Fisher.
HPDI Has Already Been Taken Smaller
“This is a true win-win for our customers and the environment,” said Billy Ainsworth, president and CEO of Electro-Motive Diesel, a subsidiary of Progress Rail Services. Progress Rail is itself a unit of Caterpillar – and is already working on a natural gas locomotive with Westport as part of a larger liquefied natural gas transportation initiative with Monteal’s Gaz Metro (F&F, November 14).
Westport-Caterpillar development programs “will start immediately for both new and existing engines, combustion technology and fuel systems,” the firms say. “Commercial production is expected to begin in about five years.”
Westport has in recent weeks disclosed deals for its HPDI knowhow to be applied to 12-liter engines by China’s Wenchai and a 13-liter engine by Volvo.
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