JASPER, Alta. - For the past 25 years, Ken Deans has called Jasper National Park his home.For the same length of time, he has also been an owner/operator.His life is a balance of his loves: the unspoi...
MOUNTAIN VIEW: Maybe it's life in the Rockies that inspires Canada's enviro-tech companies.
JASPER, Alta. – For the past 25 years, Ken Deans has called Jasper National Park his home.
For the same length of time, he has also been an owner/operator.
His life is a balance of his loves: the unspoiled Canadian wilds and the way he makes a living.
Deans’ current contract has him pulling doubles between Hinton, Alta. and Prince George, B.C.
“One of the biggest things right now obviously is the cost of fuel,” he says. “The cost of living here is so high.”
The Canadian government is slowly implementing tougher environmental regulations, but many companies-especially in Western Canada-are galloping like cowboys to develop the technology that will help save the environment.
Here is a look at some of them.
Vancouver’s Westport Innovations has developed a natural-gas fuelling technology for diesel engines: a natural-gas fuel injector which fits into the engine port designed for a diesel fuel injector.
The unit supplies an engine cylinder with a blend of the two fuels.
Traditional diesel high-air compression-rather than a spark plug-ignites the diesel, which serves as the primer to fire the natural gas and push the engine’s power stroke.
Westport’s system lets an engine retain the power and performance of the diesel motor, which transportation has come to rely on, while also lowering emissions.
The technology was first developed by a University of British Columbia professor in the early 1990s.
Westport is now the exclusive world-wide rights holder.
Recognized as a world leader in proton-exchange membrane fuel cells, Vancouver-based Ballard Power focuses on transportation, electrical-generation and portable-power products.
Ballard, which is partnered with DaimlerChrysler’s Freightliner, and with Ford, Volkswagen and General Motors, makes a fuel cell that generates electricity by mixing hydrogen and oxygen.
Dynetek Industries, which is based in Calgary, makes a lightweight storage system for compressed-natural-gas (CNG) and compressed hydrogen, both fuels for zero-emission engines.
The company’s tanks, marketed under the name DyneCell, feature a seamless, thin-wall aluminum liner and include a full carbon fiber over-wrap. They reportedly increase the range of vehicles powered by fuel cells by more than 30 per cent.
Alternative Fuel Systems
Also of Calgary, Alternative Fuel Systems (AFS) describes itself as an environmental technology company working to solve the world’s exhaust emission problems.
AFS has developed a technology that lets diesel and gasoline engines run on natural gas; it is also working on designing particulate-matter traps and advanced diesel catalytic technologies. AFS is supplying a fuel system that will make Mercedes diesel engines run exclusively on natural gas.
The company is also developing a dual fuel management system for running Cummins’ ISC engines on compressed natural gas.
For Deans, advances in the technology used to control – or even eliminate – exhaust emissions sound great, but his biggest concern for the time being has to be his fuel cost per mile.
“Right now, I get 6.5 miles per gallon (mpg),” says the long-time owner/operator.
Without the necessary infrastructure in place to support vehicles using alternative fuel technologies, he fears the related build-out costs would be passed on to Canada’s truckers.
“If my mileage was suddenly going to jump to eight or nine mpg, maybe I could see it being worthwhile,” says Deans. “I hate to say it, but most truckers are going to have to stay with what’s cheapest right now.” n