China’s first natural gas engine featuring Westport Innovations Inc. high pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology has been introduced at a press conference at the government building in Beijing. The innovative technological achievement and product introduction is the result of China’s first joint venture for HPDI natural gas engines—Weichai Westport Inc.—and fills a gap in the natural gas engine market for heavy-duty trucks.
Based on the Weichai Power WP12 engine platform, the 12-litre engine with Westport HPDI technology maintains the power and performance of the base diesel engine, but allows the replacement of up to 95% of diesel fuel with cleaner burning, less expensive natural gas.
Speaking at the press conference was Tan Xuguang, Weichai Power Chairman and David Demers, Westport CEO in addition to members from the Ministry of Science and Technology and from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
“Weichai Power is committed to an economic and environmental transportation solution to address China’s environmental protection policy,” said Tan Xuguang. “Our technological research and development has been at the forefront of China’s internal combustion engine industry. By relying on its powerful production and technological capabilities, it has been engaging in extensive development with renowned international companies, like Westport, in the field of natural gas engines.”
The Weichai Westport HPDI engine is currently undergoing road testing with a select OEM customer, Shaanxi Automobile Group. The low cost of natural gas, combined with the large amount of domestic reserves, make it an attractive transportation fuel source for China. Using the engine fleet customers can achieve significant economic benefits based on the following criteria:
- The price of natural gas, on a diesel gallon equivalent basis, is far lower than that of diesel;
- the load control of the engine with no throttle valve saves fuel; and
- the high-pressure direct injection nozzle is designed according to the common rail injection engine to further enhance performance, reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise.
“There are enormous potential fuel savings to be made if Chinese fleets adopt natural gas technology for transportation,” said David Demers. “The successful progress of the Weichai Westport HPDI engine marks a historic shift in technology and engine development in China.”
Since the joint venture was established in 2008, Weichai Westport has focused on developing natural gas engine technology for heavy-duty vehicles and city buses. Technical teams from both Westport Innovations and Weichai Power have been working together to develop technology to suit the specific needs of the Chinese market and support the government’s environmental protection policy. Currently in China, spark ignited natural gas engines comprise the majority of alternative fuel sales.
From a technical perspective, the Weichai Westport HPDI engine delivers the same power and torque (WP12HPDI Landking engine’s rated power is at 480hp/2100rpm, with maximum torque of 1970N.m/1200 ~ 1500rpm) as that of the original diesel engine, and identical performance as that of the diesel engine. The engine’s power and torque is 20% and 20-25% higher than that of the spark ignition natural gas engines respectively. Hence, it solves the problem of large plateau power loss for gas engines.
According to the Weichai Power’s most recent Annual Report, Weichai holds approximately 40 percent of the heavy duty truck engine market for trucks over 14 tonnes. According to Weichai’s August 2011 Interim Report, they sold over 200,000 heavy-duty engines for the six months ended June 30, 2011. In 2010, heavy duty truck sales in China exceeded 1 million units, according to the Weichai Power August 2011 Interim Report.
(This article primarily compiled using information from a Westport Innovations Inc. press release)