Electric vehicles are getting an overwhelming reception from people not only in India but across the globe. Several countries are pushing hard for electrification in public transport to replace the ICE-powered vehicles. Going a step ahead in the same direction, engineers at University of New South Wales (UNSW) have found success in retrofitting a diesel powertrain to use hydrogen as a fuel in order to reduce carbon emissions.
It might sound a bit unrealistic but the team’s hard work of 18 months has paid off in style. The engineering team took one and a half years to develop a dual-fuel injection system which takes 90 percent hydrogen as a fuel. Elated by this success, the team further stated that future retrofits will not take as much time and as a matter of fact, they could be done in a very few months.
Also Read: First Indigenously Developed Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Unveiled in Pune
The dual-fuel injection system developed by engineers retains the original diesel injection into the engine, albeit with the addition of a hydrogen fuel injection directly to the cylinder. The team also found a way to counter the high nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions which happen with hydrogen engines. The researchers didn’t put hydrogen into the engine and mix it up, instead an approach of stratified addition, i.e. more hydrogen in certain parts and less in certain parts, was followed so that NOx emissions are omitted. Eventually, the NOx emissions were reduced upto a significant stage in the dual-fuel engine.
A special mention goes to the dual fuel system’s non-dependency on high-purity hydrogen to use as fuel unlike the traditional hydrogen fuel cell systems. As known, the high-purity hydrogen costs a bomb and hence the new system developed by the engineers at UNSW can be used by people at lower costs. Moreover, the dual-fuel injection system is highly energy efficient (by approx 26 percent) as compared to the diesel engines.
The team is planning to commercialize this technology within the next couple of years and deploy it first in industrial locations such as mining sites where piped hydrogen lines are already in existence. Post this, it could look forward making the technology more mass-scale.
It is crystal clear that a complete overhaul of heavy vehicles like trucks and buses to zero-emission will take decades. However, if the technique used by the engineers at University of New South Wales is taken into consideration, it could be carried out rather quickly as retrofitting existing diesel engines would take very less time. Furthermore, the production of hydrogen using renewable energy sources is way more environment-friendly as compared to burning of diesel.
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