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Westport enters consortium agreement with EMD to develop natural gas fuel system for rail locomotives

Westport high-pressure direct injection (HPDI) injector for heavy-duty engines. Click to enlarge.

Westport Innovations Inc. has entered into an agreement with Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of diesel-electric locomotives, to integrate Westport’s high pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology and natural gas fuel system technologies into an EMD locomotive provided by Canadian National Railways (CN).

The consortium is expecting to demonstrate the natural gas locomotive as part of the previously announced Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) project with CN and Gaz Metro.

High-Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) injectors provide a small diesel pilot spray and a larger gas spray. The diesel averages only about 5% of the total energy input and is used to start the main combustion of high-pressure directly-injected natural gas. HPDI injectors are common-rail, diesel actuated, and electronically controlled. They can power engines up to about 24 bar BMEP at diesel-like efficiencies.

As per the consortium agreement, Westport will provide its core technologies for the engine and fuel system, and intellectual property. EMD will contribute its expertise to integrate the natural-gas engine, related components and controls to create a working locomotive platform.

EMD is one of the world’s largest builders of diesel-electric locomotives for all commercial railroad applications including intercity passenger, commuter, freight, switching, industrial and mining.

According to the United Nations Statistics Division, railroads around the world burn 9 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually, largely in the transportation of freight. The development of natural gas fueled locomotives would reduce the cost of transporting primary resources and manufactured goods because of the low cost of LNG compared with diesel fuel. The use of natural gas reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 27%.

In February, Westport secured a funding commitment of C$2.3 million to develop Westport HPDI technology for high-horsepower applications from SDTC, a not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada to help commercialize emerging clean technologies. (Earlier post.)

Westport is proposing to significantly improve the cost structure for operators of high-horsepower equipment while achieving compliance with increasingly stringent emission regulations and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 27%.

The collaboration of Westport, EMD, Canadian National Railway (CN), and Gaz Metro bring together the key elements required to achieve this goal, through developing, testing, and demonstrating a natural gas locomotive in service.



Could be a valuable interim solution to reduce crude oil imports, at least until our trains are electrified.

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