​Beyond diesel: Vancouver’s Westport touts natural gas as low emission transportation alternative

Image: Westport Fuel Systems Inc.

Westport Fuel Systems Inc. pointed to a new study by Natural Gas Vehicles Association Europe, based partly on its technology, as evidence of the greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits of natural gas for light duty and heavy duty transportation.

Alongside data from the major European vehicle and engine makers, Westport Fuel Systems made GHG emissions data specific to the Volvo V60 Bi-Fuel passenger car that uses advanced natural gas technology from Westport, and Westport High Pressure Direct Injection 2.0 (Westport HPDI 2.0) for heavy duty trucks, available for the study, enabling the latest vehicle technologies to be included in the assessment.

The detailed well-to-wheels lifecycle analysis concluded that natural gas fuelled passenger cars offer a 23 per cent GHG emission reduction benefit compared with gasoline and seven per cent compared with diesel, assuming an European Union average upstream gas mix for compressed natural gas (CNG).

In heavy-duty applications, trucks fuelled by CNG or liquefied natural gas (LNG) offer GHG emission reduction benefits of 15-16 per cent using EU average gas mix. When the highest upstream carbon intensity originating source of LNG (from Algeria) is removed and Westport HPDI 2.0 technology is used, reductions of 18-22 per cent were identified.

The GHG benefits are significantly amplified when blends of renewable natural gas or biomethane are used with well-to-wheel emissions being reduced by 80-95 per cent depending on the fuel source and production pathway, Vancouver-based Westport said.

The study analysis was performed by Thinkstep, a consultant specializing in lifecycle analysis, which collected and scrutinized the most up to date data from more than 50 industry participants across the natural gas value chain to determine the potential of natural gas engines and vehicles to deliver GHG emission reductions and contribute to the de-carbonization of the transport sector.

"Lifecycle emissions from the transport sector and the sustainability impacts of fuel are complex calculations that depend on different inputs and variables," Karen Hamberg, vice-president of Natural Gas Industry and Government Relations, said in a statement.

"This study represents a significant effort to quantify lifecycle emissions in an evolving industry already deploying new technology to dramatically reduce or eliminate the largest sources of GHG emissions from both upstream and vehicle sources. As major metropolitan areas are facing increasing air quality concerns, natural gas vehicles in all segments represent an immediate opportunity to improve air quality and reduce GHG emissions.”

Next generation natural gas technology such as Westport HPDI 2.0, which is being launched in Europe later this year, is optimal for heavy-duty vehicles, Hamberg said. “Westport HPDI 2.0 is the only natural gas engine technology that provides a ‘no-compromise’ performance value proposition while achieving diesel engine efficiency within one per cent with inherently low engine-out unburnt methane emissions."