Cummins, Inc. (NYSE:CUM) of Columbus, Indiana and Westport Innovations Inc. (TSE:WPT) of Vancouver, B.C., today announced that they have been awarded funding for a joint natural gas heavy-duty engine project. The goal of the two-year project is to develop a concept that could enable a natural gas powered 400 horsepower heavy-duty truck engine to achieve emissions far below the 2002 U.S. and California requirement for oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

The funding, totaling US$1 million, is to be provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Energy Commission. The award, subject to contract agreement, will be administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Cummins, the world's largest producer of diesel engines above 50 horsepower, is project manager. Westport, which develops alternative fueled systems for diesel engines, will perform most of the development work. Transient calibration and testing will be performed at an outside laboratory under Cummins sponsorship.

The Cummins-Westport project will use Westport's high pressure direct injection (HPDI) natural gas technology, combined with exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR) technology. The objective is to achieve the lowest possible NOx levels with technology expected to be available during the next five years.

"This work complements the current development of HPDI on the technically advanced ISX engine to explore the lower practical limits of NOx reduction using hardware which we expect to be available during the next few years," explained Tom Kieffer - Executive Director - Marketing of Cummins Inc.

"We are interested in providing our customers with the most cost-effective and reliable source of power available, and believe this technology may have potential for several heavy-duty truck market segments," Kieffer said.

Cummins and Westport jointly applied for funding of a research project for HPDI/EGR in March 2000 in response to a Request for Proposals issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District for development of a low-NOx, heavy-duty natural gas engine. The three funding agencies reviewed five applications but selected only the Cummins/Westport project and one other for funding. The research project is intended to produce a natural gas fuel system that maintains the performance of a conventional Cummins ISX diesel engine but reduces NOx to 0.5 grams per brake horsepower-hour or below.

Cummins and Westport have worked together since 1998 to develop and demonstrate HPDI for Cummins engines. HPDI technology significantly reduces emissions while retaining the diesel cycle and its efficient performance. Westport is currently road testing a truck equipped with a prototype HPDI fuel system in a 400 horsepower ISX truck engine without exhaust gas re-circulation. Field trials with customers are scheduled to begin in December.