Westport, Ford to Develop Hydrogen Engine

March 18, 2006
Two-year study seeks direct-injection fuel system

Westport Innovations Inc. and Ford Motor Co. have initiated a project to develop and demonstrate an advanced direct-injection (H2DI) fuel system for vehicles powered by high-efficiency, high-performance engines operating on pure hydrogen. The U.S. Department of Energy will join the research effort. The Canadian government has contributed C$250,000 for the project’s initial phase.

Westport, Vancouver, BC, develops environmental technologies for alternative-fuel engines, including natural gas, hydrogen, and hydrogen-enriched natural gas (HCNG). It has a number of technology development "alliances" with engine designers and manufacturers, including Cummins, Ford, MAN, BMW, and Isuzu.

The two-year H2DI development program with Ford is divided into two phases: Phase One will define advanced fuel system requirements, including the design of fuel injectors; Phase Two will incorporate the design and manufacture of new prototype fuel systems. The new collaboration is built on past work between Ford Research and Westport, beginning with natural gas engines in 1999. Ford began investigating the benefits of H2DI for reciprocating engines with Westport in 2003.

Dr. Michael Gallagher, Westport president and COO, stated that Westport's H2DI technology has been in testing at Ford, and shows potential to provide high power and engine torque with "diesel-like" efficiency and very low emissions. "Early data indicates the strong potential for a truly green vehicle combining great efficiency characteristics with extremely low air pollutants and zero greenhouse gas emissions at the tailpipe. This technology has the potential to be commercially available a lot sooner and more cost-effectively than other hydrogen automotive technologies," Gallagher said.

Development work will take place at Westport's technology center in Vancouver, Ford's test facilities in Dearborn, MI, and the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA. PNNL’s participation is funded by DOE's FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program. PNNL will be modeling the effects of hydrogen on component performance, to prolong the service of injection components so that maintenance is not required during the engine’s normal life.