Diesel Engines Tweaked to Use Hydrogen Fuel

In the coming decade, states and countries will outlaw the sale of gasoline engines. While this is a positive beginning, there is still a need to substantially develop technologies that can substitute long-haul vehicles that perform heavy work throughout sectors.

Engineers at the University of New South Wales have successfully converted a diesel motor to use hydrogen as a fuel source in order to cut carbon emissions. The researchers spent 18 months building the dual-fuel injection system, which runs on 90% hydrogen.

To get the job done, retrofitting current diesel engines would be a much simpler approach to shifting to a greener fuel-burning mechanism. Future retrofits, according to the researchers, may be performed in a couple of months. 

Shawn Kook’s research team demonstrated that they could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 86 percent compared to a diesel-powered motor.

The researchers kept the engine’s existing diesel injection and simply introduced a hydrogen fuel intake to the cylinder. Surprisingly, the team’s research also discovered a means to avoid the significant NOx emissions related to hydrogen vehicles.

Rather than introducing hydrogen into the engine and allowing it to mix with oxygen, the researchers discovered that layered injection greatly reduced NOx emissions. Overall, the dual-fuel engine lowered NOx emissions.

Most notably, the UNSW researchers’ dual fuel technology does not demand the use of high-purity hydrogen as power. Because high-purity hydrogen production is costly, the new method might be deployed at a cheaper cost to target consumers.

An additional advantage is the better energy efficiency over traditional diesel motors, which the researchers claim managed to improve by up to 26%. This was accomplished by individually adjusting the injection rates of both fuels.

The study team is certain that the technology may get commercialized within two years and could be used in industrial settings such as mines. Following that, the team will work to make its solution more portable.

In cases where hydrogen fuel may need to be carried and released, such as in a diesel motor that now operates solely on diesel, the team will also need to design a hydrogen storage solution that would be incorporated into its injection technology.

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