A Vancouver, B.C., company has risen to the forefront of Ford’s plans to develop alternative fuel vehicles. Westport Innovations Inc. and Ford Motor Company have announced a project to develop and demonstrate an advanced direct injection fuel system for vehicles powered by high-efficiency, high performance engines operating on pure hydrogen. Dr. Michael Gallagher, Westport’s president and chief operating officer, said that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would also be teaming with Westport and Ford on the further development of Westport’s hydrogen direct injection (H2DI) technology. The two-year development program will be divided into two phases. Phase one will define advanced fuel system requirements including the design of fuel injectors. Phase two will incorporate the design and manufacture of new prototype fuel systems. The Government of Canada has contributed $250,000 during phase one. Both the Government of Canada and the U.S. DOE have recognized that hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engines can help enable the deployment of functional hydrogen powered vehicles, especially work vehicles, which consume large quantities of fuel. This will allow users and technology providers to gain experience with hydrogen infrastructure while operating large numbers of low-cost early production vehicles. Dr. Gallagher added that Westport’s H2DI technology has been in testing at Ford, and has shown the potential to provide high power and engine torque with diesel-like efficiency and very low emissions. “Early data indicates the strong potential for a truly green vehicle combining great efficiency characteristics with extremely low air pollutants and zero greenhouse gas emissions at the tailpipe. This technology has the potential to be commercially available a lot sooner and more cost-effectively than other hydrogen automotive technologies.” The new collaboration builds on several years of work between Ford Research and Westport starting in 1999 with natural gas engines. Ford began investigating the benefits of hydrogen direct injection for reciprocating engines with Westport in 2003. The development work for the next generation hydrogen engine program will take place in Westport’s technology centre in Vancouver, Ford’s test facilities in Dearborn, Michigan and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington. PNNL will participate in the development program under funding already allocated by DOE’s FreedomCAR and Vehicle Technologies Program. PNNL research will focus on modeling the effects of hydrogen on component performance with the goal of extending the life of injection components so that no maintenance is required in the normal life of the engine. The development of a practical fuel injection system for hydrogen is a key objective to Ford’s strategy in making low cost hydrogen internal combustion engine technology commercially available to the market within the next few years.