January 29, 2008 Kenworth Truck Company and Westport Innovations Inc have announced that production of a line of liquefied natural gas vehicles will begin in 2009. The Kenworth T800 LNG trucks will use Westport’s LNG fuel system technology adapted for the Cummins ISX 15-liter engine.
Natural gas provides 25% of all energy in the United States, including 3% of the transportation sector’s power. Producing 30% less carbon dioxide than petroleum, and 45% less carbon dioxide than coal, it is the cleanest of all fossil fuels – but unlike other fuels, it’s extremely difficult to transport and trade. Liquefied natural gas is created by cooling natural gas to -259 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point it becomes a clear, odourless, colorless liquid that takes up just 1/600th of the space. LNG can be used in modified vehicles, or shipped, reheated and used as natural gas. It currently accounts for 2.8% of the US’s natural gas, but the US Department of Energy wishes to increase this proportion to 16% by 2030.
Arguably, the main benefit of LNG – its ability to be transported and stored – could lessen its perceived environmental benefits, as the process of converting LNG to and from natural gas involves extensive greenhouse gas emission. However, rising oil prices and government investment could most definitely give LNG the economical edge.
Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have established a $1.6 billion Clean Truck Superfund, a scheme that currently supports only Westport’s LNG fuel system. The fund will assist in replacing many of the 16 800 Class 8 trucks serving the ports with LNG-powered vehicles. The ports have also introduced a new progressive ban that will remove all pre-2007 trucks by 2012.
“The Kenworth T800, equipped with a Cummins ISX and Westport’s HPDI fuel system, offers an industry-leading solution with world-class low emissions and greenhouse gases, while delivering outstanding horsepower, torque, and efficiency comparable to a diesel engine,” said Bob Christensen, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president. “Kenworth is recognized as a technology leader in the commercial vehicle market and the exclusive ability to offer this technology reinforces Kenworth’s reputation as The World’s Best.”
Westport will open a new LNG Fuel System Assembly Center in British Columbia to support the Kenworth factory initiative and to rapidly increase production capacities of LNG fuel systems to meet growing market demand. The Westport Assembly Center will facilitate significant capability for fuel system assembly and engine conversions for delivery direct to the Kenworth plant.