From diesel to hydrogen to save 85% CO2 emissions
(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Is there hydrogen in the future of today’s diesel engines? Scientists from the University of New South Wales, Australia, are working on this possibility. Here, a team of engineers, led by Professor Shawn Kook, has spent the last 18 months developing a hybrid dual-fuel system with which to retrofit diesel engines. And, as the article published on the article published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy shows, the result of the hydrogen diesel engine is for now more than satisfactory.
For a slice of the energy world, hydrogen is not only the carrier of decarbonization. It also embodies the ability to keep fossil-related infrastructure and facilities alive, making them available for ecological transition faster than newly developed technologies.
The word speed is also the key with which to read the work of Kook and colleagues. Researchers argue that any diesel engine could be upgraded with its hybrid system in a couple of months. “Being able to adapt existing diesel engines [to hydrogen] takes much less time than waiting for the development of completely new fuel cell systems that may not be commercially available on a larger scale for at least a decade“explains Professor Kook.
How does the hydrogen diesel engine hybrid work?
Australian scientists kept the original diesel injection in the engine, but added a second hydrogen fuel system directly into the cylinder. And finding a way to solve one of the main problems related to this approach. “If you put hydrogen in the engine and let it mix, you will get an increase in emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), which is a significant cause of air pollution and acid rain,” the group leader stresses. But the team chose a “layered” approach that allowed for areas with different H2 concentrations.
The research makes room for diesel engines in the medium term, with the aim of reducing CO2 emissions immediately. The system can operate using up to 90% hydrogen as fuel and is able to reduce carbon emissions to about 90 g/kWh. That’s 85.9% less than the amount produced by conventional diesel engines. The strengths? To operate it does not require pure H2 (an essential condition for fuel cells) and offers 26% better efficiency than traditional single-cylinder engines. Scientists have already patented their invention and now hope to be able to market the new system in the next 12-24 months.