University of British Columbia Professor Emeritus Phil Hill has been named the 2011 recipient of the $100,000 Encana Principal Award by the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation. Hill was chosen for his discovery of a technology that enables diesel engines to run on clean-burning natural gas.
The high-pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology, which is being commercialized by UBC spin-off company Westport Innovations, allows diesel engines to operate on natural gas with the same power and efficiency they are known for, but reduces emissions of smog-forming nitrogen oxides and particular matter. It also reduces emissions of greenhouse gasses by up to 27 per cent.
Hill conceived of HPDI and first developed the technology in the late 1980s in his research lab at UBC’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research group’s work led to the founding of Vancouver-based Westport Innovations Inc. in 1995. Westport is now a publicly-traded company of over 650 employees and whose technology portfolio includes more than 200 patents, many of which stem from Hill’s original series of inventions.
The Manning Innovation Awards, which honour Canadian innovators in any sector, are selected by a distinguished independent body recruited from across Canada.
“There is a critical need for more innovation in Canada,” said David B. Mitchell, President of the Manning Foundation, in announcing its 2011 award winners. “Canadians need to create and commercialize innovations to compete in the global economy. We want to support, celebrate and draw attention to Canadian innovators and young Canadians showing potential to become future innovators, who have the imagination to innovate and the stamina to succeed.”
“As a university particularly concerned with sustainability and environmental issues, UBC is proud of this recognition of Prof. Hill’s work and of the resulting development of one of its most successful spin-off companies in Westport Innovations,” said UBC President Stephen J. Toope. “In addition to the environmental and economic impacts of his work, new generations of students and faculty at UBC now benefit from the legacy of his discoveries through multiple ongoing and productive research relationships and employment opportunities with Westport.”
Ten award winners in various categories – including young innovators – will be honoured in front of a large audience of Canadian leaders from business, academia and governments on October 14 in Edmonton.
For more information on the 2011 Manning Innovation Award recipients, please visit www.manningawards.ca.
To read more about Westport innovations, please visit www.westport.com