The Race for Hydrogen-Powered Diesel Engines

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have developed a new technology that could help decarbonize heavy industries in Australia. The team has created a hybrid engine that runs on hydrogen and diesel fuel, which they refer to as “baby number two.” The test rig, which is housed in its own room and looks similar to other large engines, has the potential to be game-changing technology.

The engineers claim that the hydrogen-diesel hybrid engine cuts carbon dioxide emissions by over 85%. The system works by mixing hydrogen and diesel fuel and then injecting it into the engine cylinder for combustion. As hydrogen does not produce CO2 when burned, it is a greener fuel source. Approximately 90% of fuel in the engine is hydrogen, which must be carefully calibrated to prevent any explosions.

The research team believes that diesel trucks and power equipment used in the mining, transportation, and agriculture industries can be retrofitted with the hybrid engine in just a few months. However, the team does not believe the hybrid would be of much interest to the car industry, where electric and hybrid vehicles are already widely used.

The hybrid engine can run on a mix of hydrogen and diesel fuel, or revert to diesel only if hydrogen is not available. The team hopes that their new engine will become a commercial product within the next two years. Tim Buckley, director of Climate Energy Finance, a public interest think-tank in Sydney, believes the technology has the potential to “dramatically transform the Australian mining industry.”