Westport in R&D Project for Natural Gas-Fueled Locomotives

Dec. 8, 2011
Alternative fuels could alter cost, GHGs for freight and passenger trains

Westport Innovations Inc. has an agreement in place with Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) to integrate its high-pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology and natural gas-fuel system into an EMD locomotive. Canadian National Railways will supply the locomotive, and a demonstration of the natural gas-fueled train is expected as part of the Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) project, with the railroad and Gaz Metro, a gas distributor.

SDTC is a not-for-profit company created by the Canadian government to help commercialize emerging clean technologies. Earlier this year, STDC committed C$2.3-million to Westport to develop Westport’s HPDI technology for high-horsepower applications. Vancouver-based Westport develops engines powered by alternative fuel, low-emissions technologies, such as compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, hydrogen, and Renewable Natural Gas. Electro-Motive Diesel is a diesel-electric locomotive OEM.

Westport will provide the consortium with its core technologies for the engine and fuel system, and intellectual property. EMD will contribute expertise for integrating the natural-gas engine, related components, and controls for the locomotive.

"EMD brings a great deal of experience and engineering know-how in locomotive applications," according to Westport’s senior director for High Horsepower, Paul Blomerus. " Westport's HPDI technology is ideally suited to high-horsepower applications, such as locomotives, as it retains the diesel engine's favorable operating characteristics of high torque and power, transient response and efficiency, while reducing carbon emissions.”

Blomerus predicted a successful demonstration program that would “potentially transform the rail industry."

Research by the United Nations Statistics Division, cited by Westport, finds that railroads worldwide burn 9 billion gallons of diesel fuel per year. Westport said natural gas-fueled locomotives will reduce significantly the cost of transporting resources and manufactured goods, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 27%.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)

Latest from Beyond The Cutting Zone