Volvo Trucks unveiled last week its plans to launch a 13-liter heavy-duty natural gas engine featuring Westport high pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology. The engine, marketed under the “Blue Power” designation, is scheduled to launch for the North American market in 2014.
The engine’s advanced high pressure diesel ignition technology will provide significant fuel efficiency gains compared with current natural gas products. Combined with the company’s previously announced offering of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered Volvo VNM and VNL model daycabs, the new engine will provide customers with a complete range of natural gas-powered transportation solutions. Volvo is also testing another fuel that can be produced from natural gas, DME (dimethyl ether), which has the potential to become an attractive alternative for the North American market.
Through advanced high pressure diesel ignition technology – using trace amounts of diesel to ignite the natural gas – Volvo’s LNG engine will deliver a 30-percent fuel efficiency improvement compared with spark-ignition (SI) engines, making it a viable alternative for demanding long-haul applications. The Volvo 13-liter LNG engine will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 percent compared with current diesel products.
The engine will accomplish these savings without sacrificing power, torque or fuel efficiency, all of which are critical attributes for on-highway operations. The Volvo Group was the number one supplier of 13-liter heavy-duty engines to the combined U.S. and Canadian market last year, and the same vertically integrated approach that has made Volvo a global powertrain leader is being applied to the development of the new engine. The company’s proprietary Volvo I-Shift automated mechanical transmission also will be available for customers to specify.
North America’s abundant supply of natural gas, and the reduced emissions and minimal aftertreatment CNG engines offer, make the technology an ideal solution for customers operating in localized or closed-loop applications. To meet current demand, Volvo offers the CNG-powered VNM daycab equipped with a factory-installed Cummins ISL G engine.
The company also recently announced that it is operating natural gas-powered VNL demonstrator trucks. The larger, more robust VNL model features a 12-liter Cummins- Westport ISX12 G gas engine. Factory production of the natural gas-powered VNL daycab will begin in conjunction with commercial availability of the 12-liter gas engine in early 2013. These heavy-duty engines feature maintenance-free aftertreatment, requiring only a three-way catalyst to meet EPA 2010 emissions standards.