Converter kit allows diesel
                  engines to run on natural gas

                  January 1, 1999
                  Web posted at: 12:45 p.m.
                  EST (1745 GMT)

                  (CNN) -- For
                  decades, fuel-efficient
                  and mechanically simple
                  diesel engines have
                  powered heavy-duty
                  vehicles and machines around the world. They have also been pumping out
                  major pollutants.

                  A Canadian company called Westport Innovations hopes to sell diesel
                  engine users on a conversion kit, which enables the same engines to run on
                  natural gas.

                  The company projects that it will eventually capture almost a third of the $70
                  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

                                               Patented method

                                               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
                                               efficient burning.

                                               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 get a
                  better ride out of this because you get more power -- especially on the