Westport has debuted its latest development in the natural gas vehicle and engine sector: a proprietary ‘enhanced spark-ignited’ (ESI) natural gas system that will be initially aimed at medium-duty engine and vehicle applications.
‘As gasoline and diesel engines progress, it is critical that OEMs offer natural gas engines that retain their expected performance while providing the environmental and economic benefits of natural gas,’ says Jack Keaton, Westport's vice president of global spark-ignited direct injection.
The company says its new platform is flexible, in that it is a ‘long-term technology solution’ enabling OEMs to roll out natural gas offerings in step with improvements in engine families' performance and fuel economy.
‘As the ESI technology continues to be developed, Westport will incorporate competitive performance upgrades to support the longevity of this system,’ Keaton adds.
The system is designed for 100% natural gas use, whether stored on board the vehicle as compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Westport notes that ESI systems will be ‘targeted at sub-9L engines for Class 6 and 7 trucks applications’ but that it is ‘adaptable for sub-2L applications for use in automotive and non-automotive applications.’
A key highlight of ESI technology is that it can yield up to a 10% improvement in an engine's power and torque over the base diesel engine: ‘A spark-ignited natural gas engine compared to a diesel engine potentially allows a 4L natural gas engine to replace a 6L diesel engine, which results in substantial mass reduction, Westport notes.
Moreover, an engine that incorporates ESI natural gas technology will achieve fuel economy that is comparable to that of the base diesel engine.
Westport says it is currently working with ‘several vehicle and engine OEMs’ to assessÂ the potential for incorporating ESI into medium-duty truck and automotive applications.