Volvo launching 13-liter heavy-duty LNG engine with Westport HPDI injection in 2014; CNG and DME potential
Volvo Trucks plans to launch a 13-liter heavy-duty liquefied natural gas (LNG) engine featuring Westport high pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology for the North American market in 2014. (Earlier post.)
The engine’s advanced high pressure diesel ignition technology will provide significant fuel efficiency gains compared with current natural gas products, according to Volvo. Combined with its previously announced offering of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered Volvo VNM and VNL model daycabs, the new engine will provide customers with a range of natural gas-powered transportation solutions for different applications. Volvo is also testing another promising fuel that can be produced from natural gas, DME (dimethyl ether).
Through Westport’s advanced high pressure diesel ignition technology—using trace amounts of diesel to ignite the natural gas—Volvo’s LNG engine will deliver a 30% fuel efficiency improvement compared with spark-ignition (SI) engines, making it a viable alternative for demanding long-haul applications. The Volvo 13-liter LNG engine will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20% compared with current diesel products.
The engine will accomplish these savings without sacrificing power, torque or fuel efficiency, all of which are critical attributes for on-highway operations.
As previously disclosed, under the terms of the agreement, each partner will contribute significant resources and pay for its own people and costs of the program. Westport will lead the program. When the product is launched, Westport will supply its HD system components for an agreed upon amount per engine, comparable to other such arrangements previously announced.
The Volvo Group was the number one supplier of 13-liter heavy-duty engines to the combined US and Canadian market last year. The company’s proprietary Volvo I-Shift automated mechanical transmission also will be available for customers to specify.
Despite the near-term infrastructure questions regarding widespread adoption of natural gas as a heavy-duty truck fuel, it’s clear this segment will grow over the next several years. We’re already delivering factory-built CNG-powered trucks, and as the long-haul fueling infrastructure develops, the advanced technology in our new LNG engine will provide increased range and improved fuel efficiency in a seamlessly integrated Volvo powertrain.—Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing
CNG for closed-loop and delivery applications. CNG can be an attractive solution for customers operating in localized or closed-loop applications, Volvo said. To meet current demand, Volvo offers the CNG-powered VNM daycab equipped with a factory-installed Cummins ISL G engine.
The company also recently announced that it is operating natural gas-powered VNL demonstrator trucks. The larger, more robust VNL model features a 12-liter Cummins-Westport ISX12 G gas engine. Factory production of the natural gas-powered VNL daycab will begin in conjunction with commercial availability of the 12-liter gas engine in early 2013. These heavy-duty engines feature maintenance-free aftertreatment, requiring only a three-way catalyst to meet EPA 2010 emissions standards.
DME shows promise in customer tests. The Volvo Group has conducted hundreds of thousands of miles of customer field testing of trucks equipped with DME, which can be produced from natural gas. The strong results—from ten vehicles operating in a variety of applications in Europe—indicate DME holds much promise as a heavy-truck fuel, and could become a viable alternative in North America to CNG or LNG when it comes to performance, environmental impact, safety and distribution, according to Volvo.
DME mirrors the performance qualities and energy efficiency of diesel while significantly reducing GHG emissions. It is an excellent compression ignition fuel which, like diesel, requires no separate ignition mechanism. Unlike LNG, it does not require cryogenic temperatures; it is handled like propane, with tank pressures of 75 psi (vs. 3,000 psi for CNG), and it is non-toxic. DME burns with a blue flame and requires no diesel particulate filter. DME packages densely enough to allow long range transports or to allow room for vocational truck equipment on the frame.