The HCNG Transportation Project in Vancouver

In 2004, Westport Innovations Inc. announced that it along with its partner companies had been given a commitment of $5.8 million in funds for the completion of a special project in Vancouver. The funds were delegated from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to see the company develop and demonstrate a new use for hybrid hydrogen cell technology. The project’s goal was to create up to five buses that ran off a system that used a blend of hydrogen and natural gases that was termed HCNG.

The general mission of the project.

Westport’s chief operating officer stated that the project would serve as a catalyst for even more projects to arise that would help in the development of extremely low emission hydrogen vehicles. It would also be a unique opportunity for research, as the fleet of experimental buses would provide new data for handling fueling and storage of gaseous fuels. There was also talk of having the natural gas lines in the area potentially modified to accommodate a full fleet of the hybrid fuel buses. Along with the buses, a fleet of hydrogen powered, lighter duty vehicles were also in the works to coincide with the project.

As the project took shape and progressed.

Three years into the project, Dynatek, one of the collaborating companies, has begun to play a key role in the harvesting and development of the fueling station. For Canada there is over 50,000,000 GCEs of hydrogen that are wasted every year by simply being vented out. The percentage that comes from the North Vancouver area alone would be enough to power around 20,000 cars a year. In cooperation with the Canadvian Intergrated Waste Hydrogen Utilization Project, Dynatek created the unique filters that capture purified hydrogen for re-purposing. The canisters themselves are used in a style similar to how milk used to be delivered door to door, as they are taken to bust, vehicle, and fuel stations along with a fuel cell that is used to power a carwash.

The total number of operational buses using the hybrid hydrogen cell technology ended up at to four. These were featured at the 2010 Olympics as part of the athletes transportation. Translink continued to use the Westport technology and blended fuel of 20% hydrogen and 80% natural gas in their heavy duty vehicles. While, Sacre-Davey, another of the original partner companies worked on focusing efforts into making modular and space efficient fueling stations.

The end results of the first phase.

Began as a five year project, it grew into an $18 million effort that had a total of 21 partner companies and individual members. The end results were impressive to say the least. They proved that hydrogen fuel cells can be utilized, not only effectively, but also in combination with natural gas. The small fleet of HCNG fueled buses was accompanied by eight other vehicle types that all used hydrogen internal combustion engines. The last two years of the project also demonstrated how hydrogen systems can be integrated into local systems as an effective and clean method of dealing with waste hydrogen. The project also yielded not only working models for large scale fueling plants to accommodate industrial vehicles, it also produced modular and easily moved lighter stations for conventional vehicles as well.