Delphi Automotive Systems do Brasil is developing a bus and truck bi-fuel system to allow engines to run on both diesel and natural gas.

Scheduled to reach the market in 2007, the new technology for heavy vehicles will reduce fuel costs.

Delphi estimates the savings will be in the order of 30%, and harmful emissions will also be reduced.

The new bi-fuel system uses diesel to start the engine. At low engine revolutions, it starts injecting gas, steadily reaching a proportion of up to 90% to 95% gas and 5% to 10% diesel.

"The performance of the bi-fuel engine is the same compared with one that runs only on diesel", said Vicente Pimenta, special project quality and development manager at Delphi Brazil.

One vehicle maker and one engine manufacturer are interested in the system and have worked jointly with Delphi to develop the first prototypes.

"The system will also be good for Brazil´s trade balance, reducing diesel imports", added Pimenta.

The new system can also use biodiesel.

In Brazil, Delphi is one of the pioneers in bi-fuel systems, also called flexfuel. The company supplies car makers with a system that allows engines to run on petrol and alcohol or a blend of the two.

Delphi equips the Chevrolet Corsa Flexpower.

The use of natural gas is a growing business in Brazil, where about 800,000 vehicles run on it as a second fuel.

Here, Delphi has 10 plants, two technology centres and four application centres.

Rogério Louro