Retro-fit Diesel engines to run on 90% hydrogen

14 October 2022 | David Young

A team from UNSW Engine Research Laboratory develop new Hydrogen-Diesel Direct Injection Dual-Fuel System that significantly cuts carbon emissions

Retro fit diesel engines to run on 90% hydrogen

The Hydrogen-Diesel Direct Injection Dual-Fuel System has been developed by a team from the UNSW Engine Research Laboratory led by Professor Shawn Kook (right), and including Xinyu Liu (back left) and Jinxin Yang (front left). Photo from Prof Shawn Kook

Engineers from UNSW Sydney have successfully converted a diesel engine to run as a hydrogen-diesel hybrid engine – reducing CO2 emissions by more than 85 per cent in the process.

The team, led by Professor Shawn Kook from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, spent around 18 months developing the Hydrogen-Diesel Direct Injection Dual-Fuel System that means existing diesel engines can run using 90 per cent hydrogen as fuel.

The researchers say that any diesel engine used in trucks and power equipment in the transportation, agriculture and mining industries could ultimately be retrofitted to the new hybrid system in just a couple of months.

Green hydrogen, which is produced using clean renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, is much more environmentally friendly than diesel.

And in a paper published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Prof Kook's team show that using their patented hydrogen injection system reduces CO2 emissions to just 90 g/kWh – 85.9 per cent below the amount produced by the diesel powered engine.

"This new technology significantly reduces CO2 emissions from existing diesel engines, so it could play a big part in making our carbon footprint much smaller, especially in Australia with all our mining, agriculture and other heavy industries where diesel engines are widely used," says Prof Kook.

"We have shown that we can take those existing diesel engines and convert them into cleaner engines that burn hydrogen fuel.

"Being able to retrofit diesel engines that are already out there is much quicker than waiting for the development of completely new fuel cell systems that might not be commercially available at a larger scale for at least a decade.

"With the problem of carbon emissions and climate change, we need some more immediate solutions to deal with the issue of these many diesel engines currently in use."