Export Development Canada closely followed Westport Fuel Systems for years, but the relationship really got off the ground in 2017 when EDC signed a $US20-million loan agreement to help launch its Westport™ HPDI 2.0 system that enables heavy-duty trucks to run on natural gas with reduced fuel costs, fewer CO2 emissions, and diesel-like performance.
Westport Fuel Systems’ roots trace back to early public concern about urban smog and air quality issues in the 1970s and a University of British Columbia professor’s desire to build a better diesel engine. Dr. Philip Hill quickly realized that the use of diesel fuel was a big part of the air quality problems, so he set out to build a better engine that could deliver the same power, efficiency and reliability using cleaner-burning natural gas.
This research eventually led to the development of high-pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology, which injects a small amount of diesel into an internal combustion engine. This allows the engine to mimic the diesel combustion cycle using 90% natural gas, delivering similar power with fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The company was created in 1995 to commercialize the technology and, in 2007, Westport Fuel Systems released its first commercial product to demonstrate HDPI’s viability. Ongoing development over the next decade led to a 2017 partnership that used improved, lower-cost Westport HDPI 2.0 components to build an advanced heavy-duty truck that could deliver comparable power to diesel-only vehicles with 20% lower CO2 emissions.
Anti-diesel sentiment is growing, especially with rising fuel costs and tighter CO2 and air quality standards. As a proven, commercially viable alternative, Westport HPDI 2.0 technology offers a compelling solution for heavy-duty, long-haul truck operators. With top-tier OEM partners and industry networks, they have the tools in place to reach their target markets in Europe and China.
Westport Fuel Systems had considered other financial partners for Westport HPDI 2.0 before approaching EDC. While neither company had worked together directly before, Westport Fuel Systems knew EDC offered several potentially helpful products and appreciated the corporation’s focus on expanding Canadian exports.
Westport Fuel Systems has always supported Canada’s efforts to diversify trade, but they were pleasantly surprised by EDC’s practical support in helping them scale internationally. Beyond the loan, they say they appreciate EDC’s leadership and the benefits of EDC’s network of global contacts.
Westport Fuel Systems’ technology has the potential to make an important contribution to combatting global climate change and the sales potential to drive the creation of new cleantech jobs in British Columbia and beyond. EDC is happy to support Westport Fuel Systems by recognizing them as one of Canada’s “Cleantech Export Stars”.