The use of Hydrogen in Diesel engines

Due to the high dependency of the current society of petroleum and other fossil fuels for all types of products, and large-scale consumption of these as the main fuel for transport and electricity generation; there have been serious alterations in the environment and even in the world economy.

Because of these effects on the environment, and the increasingly near peak or depletion of oil, it is necessary that both scientists and engineers to investigate new sources of renewable and alternative energy sources.

One of them is the hydrogen which, although still in the development phase, is one of the energy vectors of the future. Among its main advantages is its great abundance in the planet, always combined with other elements. Likewise, by means of processes such as electrolysis, its generation is relatively easy, being obtained with renewable energies in a very clean way.

It is possible to use hydrogen as a store of surplus electric power at times of lower consumption. For this reason, IDEOJ is committed to hydrogen within our philosophy of promoting the use of renewable and non-polluting energies.

Inside the motors, one of the technologies that must be adapted are internal combustion engines, in which many companies are already investing. The combined combustion of hydrogen and hydrocarbons in the engine seems to be a feasible solution for several reasons. One of them is the high calorific power of hydrogen, which can move a fraction of fossil fuel, in addition to potentially contribute in reducing the emissions of such engines.

Injection of Hydrogen: The improvement of the current engines

Depending on the percentage, substantial reductions of emissions are achieved, especially of the fumes, as well as the hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. With quantities of 65 to 85% of hydrogen the best results are produced, in which all NOx emissions descend dramatically and thermal performance is increased.

Although those estimations are based on lab testing, it seems a close reality. There is currently a low production of hydrogen by means of renewable energy, making it difficult to obtain sufficient quantities to replace such a fraction of fuel. Therefore, our efforts are aimed at making use of our knowledge and experience in the renewable energy sector, to boost the hydrogen injection engines.

NOx emissions are presented as a possible disadvantage. These emissions, however, can be reduced through different techniques. The methods considered appropriate for this type of pollutants are mainly four:

– The introduction of third substances such as diethyl ether

– The adjustment of electronic components of fuel injection engine

– exhaust gas recirculation

– Selective Catalytic Reduction, the latter considered one with the most positive results.

The system is recommended for the near future, on which there is a hardening of the laws against emissions. We can observe progress in electrolytic technologies on how to obtain significant amounts of hydrogen to appropriate yields. A Project in which we are working for direct use in trucks and buses.

Current applications of H2 in Transportation

We are developing a technology that makes possible the use of hydrogen in transport systems covering specifically the use in trucks and buses. According to the information that we have collected in our research, we observe the following trends:

The use of hydrogen in transport is given for two applications: hydrogen fuel cells which convert hydrogen to electricity for use in electric engines and direct injection of hydrogen in internal combustion engines. There are a few instances of use in internal combustion engines, where the hydrogen is burned inside the engine in the same way as petrol. In these cases, it is more of a conversion of existing engines than a dedicated design. However, the majority of cases are using hydrogen in fuel cells to produce electricity to power electrical propulsion engines together with batteries.

Closed Circuits and public transport

At the global level, the application of hydrogen in mobility is studied using a refueling station to operate, in other words it requires the operation of equipment within a closed circuit such as public transport networks. The cases studied correspond mainly to the use of hydrogen in public transport buses, with an application in train, one in logistics equipment in a production plant and other cases where electricity is also injected into the power network.

Hydrogen is used in most cases in fuel cells to use the electricity generated in electric motors mostly accompanied by batteries. Finally, there are cases, in Argentina specifically, in which hydrogen is mixed with natural gas to fuel internal combustion engines.

With reference to refueling stations, these are built by companies that have a long history of working with industrial gases. Within the stations there are 3 types based on how hydrogen is obtained: those with in situ production, those with supply by trucks and the last type corresponds to a mixture of the previous ones.

As we see, the use of hydrogen in diesel engines is presented as a real alternative to the classic engines that continue to promote the use of oil. Our research, always at the forefront of sustainable technologies, is committed to the use of hydrogen.