Ontario reworking emissions tests for trucks

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DynaCERT chief engineer Robert Maier explains his company’s HydraGEN system to Ontario Transport Minister Jeff Yurek (center) and Environment Minister Rod Phillips. (Photo: John G. Smith)

TORONTO, Ont. – Ontario continues to rework its emissions testing program for heavy-duty vehicles following a decision to cancel Drive Clean tests on light-duty models.

The light-duty tests came to an end April 1, as the provincial government cited broad improvements in emissions controls. Just 5% of passenger cars failed the tests in 2017, compared to the 16% that failed when the program was introduced in 1999.

In announcing the change, regulators stressed that heavy-duty diesel vehicles have not fared as well because mandatory standards have not been as stringent. Trucks at least seven years old, and with gross weights above 4,500 kg (9,900 lb.), are still required to pass annual Drive Clean emissions tests before registrations are renewed.

But this testing regime is set to change.

“In the near future we’ll be starting to roll out both the increased inspection — which will incorporate Ministry of Transportation as well as Ministry of Environment — and then working with the industry as well as with other stakeholders around what the standards will be,” Environment Minister Rod Phillips tells Today’s Trucking, citing work with the Ontario Trucking Association.

“Our plan is again to try to get out of the way of the kind of duplication and look at all the inspections that are happening, and all the inspections that the trucking industry is required to look at,” he said. “How can we do more of the kind of work we want to do – which is to make sure we’re getting the inspections done – and increasing significantly the number of inspections without adding an additional burden in terms of time.”

DynaCERT’s Toronto facility has the capacity to produce about 6,000 HydraGEN units per month. About 500 units are currently in the midst of trials, says CEO Jim Payne.

DynaCERT’s hydrogen plans

Phillips made the comments following a tour of DynaCERT, a Toronto-based manufacturer that’s producing a system which injects hydrogen into engine air intakes in the name of enhancing combustion.

The company’s suitcase-sized HydraGEN units generate hydrogen that’s fed into air intakes to produce a faster and more complete burn during an engine’s power stroke. Distilled water is stored in a heated reservoir that, combined with a potassium hydroxide electrolyte and 300 watts of electrical power, is transformed into the gas through electrolysis.

Cited benefits range from fuel economy, to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced particulate matter.

“This is the kind of company, the kind of technology we are hoping to inspire,” Phillips said, referring to his government’s environment strategy.

“We just have a lot of confidence in the entrepreneurial spirit of companies like this one. Companies that will see an opportunity and produce a product that will work for us here in Ontario and elsewhere.”

“This has all the potential in the world,” Phillips added. “Obviously the market will decide how it works, but I think you can see there’s been a lot of work going into making sure that it meets the standards that are required, that it has the proof points that are required.”

DynaCERT is citing positive test results from labs including Quebec-based PIT Group. It currently has about 500 units in field trials, and has the capacity to produce as many as 6,000 units per month on a single shift per day.

“We truly think that hydrogen is a real game changer,” said president and CEO Jim Payne. “We accomplished something no one in the world was able to do.”


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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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