Hun­ters and in­jec­tors

Gas fuel sys­tem spe­cial­ists are chas­ing big busi­ness, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

WHILE the CSIRO’s Fu­ture Fu­els boffins were com­ing to their con­clu­sion about nat­u­ral gas, one com­pany was get­ting on with de­vel­op­ing a sys­tem suit­able for Aus­tralian heavy-duty trucks.

Canada’s West­port In­no­va­tions is a gaseous fuel-sys­tems spe­cial­ist with a new sys­tem of di­rect in­jec­tion that can be adapted to a heavy-duty diesel en­gine without mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the core en­gine.

The West­port HDPI (high pres­sure di­rect in­jec­tion) sys­tem re­places the diesel fuel sys­tem and the en­gine is ready to run. Though the en­gine doesn’t need mod­i­fi­ca­tion, the truck does need to be re-en­gi­neered to ac­cept the LNG tanks and the fuel sup­ply-sys­tem hard­ware needed to sup­ply the LNG to the in­jec­tors has to be fit­ted.

The West­port HPDI in­jec­tor de­liv­ers diesel and va­por­ised LNG to the en­gine. About 5 per cent of the to­tal vol­ume is diesel, which is in­jected as a pi­lot shot to get the com­bus­tion process go­ing. The va­por­ised LNG fol­lows as the main in­jec­tion.

Both fu­els are in­jected through the same in­jec­tor, the diesel through a cen­tral nee­dle and the va­por­ised LNG through a con­cen­tric outer nee­dle.

The ben­e­fit is the sys­tem not only de­liv­ers sub­stan­tial fuel cost sav­ings, along with worth­while en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits, but there’s no loss of en­gine power, torque, or ef­fi­ciency rel­a­tive to the base diesel en­gine.

Though there has been in­tense fo­cus on the hike in diesel prices, West­port — with the sup­port of the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment through the Aus­tralian Green­house Of­fice— has com­pleted a trial with a num­ber of lo­cal fleets to es­tab­lish the cred­i­bil­ity of its sys­tem.

Four Ken­worth T404/408 SAR trucks were es­pe­cially built for the project and de­ployed in late 2007 with fleets in West­ern Aus­tralia and Vic­to­ria for a six-month trial.

Two were run by Mitchell Corp in West­ern Aus­tralia, where they were gross­ing out at 100 tonnes haul­ing crude oil on a 800km round trip.

Perth com­pany Sands Fridge Lines ran a test truck on a re­frig­er­ated goods de­liv­ery run on which it grossed out at 38-90 tonnes.

The fourth truck was run by Mur­ray Goul­burn Co-op­er­a­tive in Vic­to­ria, where it was on a milk run be­tween Mel­bourne and Gipp­s­land and run­ning at 68-tonne GCM.

The test pro­gram was com­pleted in March, by which time the trucks had ac­cu­mu­lated 275,000km. So pos­i­tive were the re­sults that all agreed to keep the trucks in their fleets and Mitchell or­dered an ad­di­tional four trucks, Ken­worth K108 cab-over prime movers, for their fleet.

The en­gines used in the test trucks were 15-litre Cum­mins ISX units that were con­verted to HPDI by West­port. Emis­sion tests on the HDPI en­gines showed a re­duc­tion in green­house gas of more than 25 per cent, and par­tic­u­lates were slashed 60 per cent. The en­gines were cer­ti­fied by West­port to ADR 80/02 emis­sion lim­its.

West­port’s sys­tem doesn’t come cheap. De­pend­ing on the num­ber of tanks that need to be in­stalled, it will cost more than $120,000, but with LNG cost­ing sig­nif­i­cantly less than diesel that can be re­cov­ered quite quickly if do­ing big mileage.

Fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion of the trial West­port has of­fered its HDPI en­gine in an off-line fit­ment in a new Ken­worth K108 to seed the mar­ket.

Ken­worth manag­ing di­rec­tor Joe Rizzo says LNG in­ter­est is grow­ing, de­spite prob­lems still to be re­solved like dis­tri­bu­tion and the up­front cost of the sys­tem.

‘‘It’s still early days be­cause there are a lot of is­sues to over­come, such as fill­ing sta­tions and the ini­tial cost, but for some op­er­a­tions it makes a lot of sense,’’ Rizzo says.

Test pat­tern: a Mitchell Corp Ken­worth T404/408 SAR, part of the high pres­sure di­rect-in­jec­tion ex­per­i­men­tal fleet.

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