January 1, 1999
Web posted at: 12:45 p.m.
EST (1745 GMT)
(CNN) -- For
and mechanically simple
diesel engines have
vehicles and machines around the world. They have also been pumping out
A Canadian company called Westport Innovations hopes to sell diesel
engine users on a conversion kit, which enables the same engines to run on
The company projects that it will eventually capture almost a third of
billion global diesel engine market, as nations turn to new technology to meet
more stringent clean-air standards.
"At the moment, we have a very big atmospheric pollution concern, so we
feel we have a very good product to step into an existing market on a
short-term basis," said Patric Ouelette, chief scientist at Westport
Westport said its patented method
converts a diesel-burning engine into
one that burns almost all natural gas,
after using just enough diesel to start
the combustion cycle.
The conversion kit contains injectors
capable of handling both diesel fuel
and natural gas, as well as other
components that store the natural gas
at the high pressure necessary for
Westport said a converted engine
emits half the pollution a conventional
diesel engine does. The company also
says natural gas is about 30 percent
cheaper than diesel fuel, so bus and truck companies can recoup the cost of
each $20,000 conversion kit within a few years.
One bus with a converted diesel engine is already shuttling college students
around Berkeley, California.
"It handles real good, real good," said bus driver Sharon Woodbush. "I
better ride out of this because you get more power -- especially on the