Emissions Challenge:
Challenger Takes Natural-Gas-Powered Trucks on the Road

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. — Southern Ontario trucking giant Challenger Motor Freight will begin operating five new trucks powered with liquefied natural gas.

The small fleet of Volvo trucks are equipped with 450-hp Cummins ISX engines using Vancouver-based Westport Innovation’s High-Pressure Direct-Injection (HPDI) technology. The trucks are running along Hwy. 401, between Michigan and Ontario — an auto parts-heavy lane that’s now dubbed by the project partners as “The Clean Air Corridor.”

A new LNG fuel station has also been installed at Challenger’s truck terminal in London, Ont.

The deployment is part of a one-year demonstration project that received funding of $1 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a foundation to support clean technologies. An additional investment of $2 million has been leveraged by a Westport-led consortium that includes Challenger Motor Freight, Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada.

“We and our partners are showing industry, government and the public that new, made-in-Canada solutions are available to combat mounting fuel costs, urban air pollution and challenges brought on by climate change,” said Westport president Dr. Michael Gallagher in a press release. “Around the world, transportation relies on oil for nearly 100 percent of its growing fuel needs. We think it is critical to begin diversifying our fuel sources.”

HPDI trucks match the power, torque, and fuel efficiency of current diesel trucks but with significantly reduced emissions, says Westport. Also, LNG provides two-and-a-half times the energy storage as the same volume of compressed natural gas (CNG), which allows Challenger the on-board fuel capacity in the 800-km range, the company adds.

This project follows the successful field trial of Westport’s first-generation HPDI engines that began almost four years ago in California. The Challenger HPDI trucks incorporate several major improvements over those first-generation vehicles, Westport says, demonstrating improved vehicle performance and higher reliability.

New features include the first deployment of Westport’s 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.

By carefully coupling these design features with the advanced turbocharger and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) control from the Cummins diesel engine, the next generation HPDI system has increased power and torque ratings of 450 horsepower and 1650 lb ft with efficiency with the same or better fuel economy of the latest diesel engines.

According to the company, the engines are expected to produce 50 percent lower emissions of NOx compared to the first generation systems while retaining particulate matter (PM) at approximately 80 percent lower than today’s environmental standards. In addition to combining low NOx and PM with high fuel efficiency, the HPDI system also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 25 percent compared to equivalent diesel trucks. This reduction is due largely to the HPDI technology substituting natural gas for diesel fuel in the combustion process, with a small amount of diesel fuel injected to provide ignition, Wesport says.

As part of a phased approach to meet the 2010 emissions standards, heavy-duty engine manufacturers will produce products that achieve HPDI equivalent NOx levels of 1.2g/bhp-hr in 2007, and are considering the use of exhaust aftertreatment systems on diesel engines, initially for PM and potentially for NOx in 2010.

Today’s average diesel vehicle fleet in North America operates between 2.2 to 5 g/hp-hr of NOx and 0.1 g/hp-hr of PM, Westport suggests. Although that is quickly changing as new Environmental Protection Agency mandated emission standards take effect.

Westport expects its natural gas technologies will continue to provide benefits past the 2007-2010, adding that its LNG engines already offer emissions performance not expected from diesel engines until 2007. Furthermore, LNG engines do not require the “challenging and penalizing” exhaust aftertreatment devices to achieve the EPA 2007/2010 emissions targets.

While LNG production in North America is limited to approximately 100 facilities, there is growing interest in developing LNG import terminals to provide abundant lower-cost gas to enter the market. “LNG imports to the U.S. made up less than two percent of the gas consumed in 2004, but analysts predict that LNG imports will account for 15 to 20 percent of natural gas consumption by 2025.” There are currently eight active proposals for LNG terminals in Canada alone.

Westport Innovations Inc., the leading developer of environmental technologies that allow engines to operate on clean burning fuels such as natural gas, hydrogen, and hydrogen-enriched natural gas (HCNG). Westport has technology development alliances in place with Ford, MAN, BMW, and Isuzu, as well as an ownership interest in Clean Energy, the largest provider of natural gas for vehicles in North America. Cummins Westport Inc., Westport’s joint venture with Cummins Inc., manufactures and sells the world’s widest range of low-emissions alternative fuel engines for commercial transportation applications such as trucks and buses.

Challenger Motor Freight Inc., recent winner of Canada’s 50 Best Managed companies (2001-2004) is the largest privately owned trucking company in Canada. Challenger provides a full range of transportation, logistics, and integrated services to Canadian, U.S., and Mexican markets. As a recognized leader in the field of safety, Challenger has often been involved with pilot projects involving safety, technology, and environmental issues.

Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., Canada’s largest natural gas distribution company, provides natural gas to about 1.7 million industrial, commercial, and residential customers in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and New York State. It is owned and operated by Enbridge Inc., a leader in energy transportation and distribution in North America and internationally.

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