HPDI tech converts truck engines to run on hydrogen

In the quest to eliminate emissions from heavy transportation, Westport Fuel Systems is mounting a challenge to electric traction using batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

The Westport H2 Hpdi power supply technology enables current truck engines to be powered with hydrogen, nearly completely reducing emissions without necessitating an epochal change of the entire industrial system and of the fuel distribution network. This technology has already been tested on the road in North America and shown to the European authorities shortly after the presentation at the recent Hanover show.

The new fuel system is based on HPDI technology, which is already widely used in the commercial sector to power industrial vehicles with LNG, or liquefied natural gas, which has significantly lower emissions than diesel.

Data from Westport Fuel Systems shows that switching to hydrogen fueling with the H2 Hpdi solution increases a truck’s internal combustion engine’s power, torque, and efficiency over the diesel version by 20%, 15%, and 10%, respectively. Numbers are really interesting and correspond to a nearly 0% reduction in CO2 emissions. Using hydrogen to fuel internal combustion engines is a third option that, in contrast to electric batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, Westport claims should never be undervalued.

The two currently recognized approaches to achieving sustainability in the heavy-duty transportation industry are both based on comprehensive electrification of traction, necessitating a total overhaul of the automotive industry’s supply chain. Particularly in the case of electric batteries, the supply network also requires a complete conversion into a recharging infrastructure.

“According to David Johnson, president of Westport Fuel Systems, the hydrogen fueling of internal combustion engines through the H2 HPDI technology enables industrial vehicles to perform better than diesel-powered ones while lowering societal decarbonization expenses. We, therefore, anticipate that the European Commission and its member states will help green hydrogen proliferate while also promoting its usage in transportation “.

Johnson’s remarks are a clear invitation to not limit one’s attention to electric vehicles for heavy-duty road transport, as is the case with cars. Additionally, the conversion of trucks using internal combustion engines to hydrogen-using fuel cells is competitive with the hydrogen fuelling of trucks using internal combustion engines in terms of life cycle emissions and associated costs to society, according to Westport Fuel Systems. The fact that the production system for traction technologies based on internal combustion engines already exists and does not require significant conversion expenditures for the adoption of the new fuel is crucial to achieving this socioeconomic as well as environmental result.