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Westport Enters Tier 1 Development Supplier Agreement with Volvo for Natural Gas Fuel Systems

Westport Innovations Inc. has entered a Tier 1 Development Supplier Agreement with Volvo for its heavy duty natural gas engines and associated supply chain. Westport will supply its Westport HD technology and work together with the Gothenburg, Sweden engine manufacturer to qualify appropriate suppliers consistent with Volvo volume and quality expectations. The new natural gas engines are expected to meet future European emission requirements.

In July 2008, Westport announced an agreement with Volvo to integrate and test Westport’s HD system on Volvo engines. (Earlier post.) Under the new agreements, Westport and Volvo will share program development expenses.

The new agreement requires Westport and Volvo to work to negotiate further agreements regarding certain elements of the development program. It also requires Westport and Volvo to satisfy certain milestones in order for the development program to continue, including the completion of the relevant technological, engineering and cost requirements and the completion of the further agreements.

The Westport HPDI fuel system uses natural gas as the primary fuel, along with a small amount of diesel as an ignition source or “liquid spark plug”. The system uses a patented injector with a dual-concentric needle which allows for small quantities of diesel fuel and large quantities of natural gas to be delivered at high pressure to the combustion chamber.

HPDI gives the engine the efficiency and low-speed torque advantages of compression ignition while using natural gas as the primary fuel. With HPDI engines, approximately 95% of the diesel fuel (by energy) consumed in a diesel engine is displaced with natural gas with no compromises on engine torque, power, fuel economy, or driveability while at the same time reducing NOx by 50% and CO2 by up to 20%.

In January, Volvo Powertrain also signed a Letter of Intent with Clean Air Power Ltd. to incorporate UK-based Clean Air Power’s Dual-Fuel natural gas technology (earlier post) into Volvo Truck engines. Clean Air Power’s Dual-Fuel application enables diesel engines to operate primarily on up to 85-90% natural gas with diesel pilot ignition. (Earlier post.)

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