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Diesel Engines Can Burn Clean Hydrogen

The converted engines emit 86 percent less carbon and could pave the way for zero-emissions trucks, ships, and heavy industrial equipment within a couple years.

Large diesel truck

Vehicles fueled by hydrogen are much more energy-efficient than those powered by fossil fuels, and they only emit water vapor and warm air. But these vehicles need special battery-like devices called fuel cells to drive their motors. Not anymore!

Researchers in Australia have retrofitted diesel engines to run on 90 percent hydrogen as fuel, emitting 86 percent less carbon.

Trucks, trains, ships, and farm and construction equipment all use diesel today. Existing diesel engines can all be retrofitted to the new hybrid system, the researchers say. This switch could speed up the transition to clean hydrogen transportation.

The hydrogen economy, after decades of hype and anticipation, has picked up speed in recent years. Governments and industries around the world have set goals recently to speed up the production of green hydrogen.

Green hydrogen could play a big role in cutting carbon emissions from transportation and heavy industry. A handful of companies are now testing hydrogen fuel cell trucks and battery-powered trucks. But a move to such zero-emission trucks and machines could take many years, if not decades.

The good news is that retrofitting existing diesel engines should be faster and easier. The research team hopes to commercialize the technology within the next two years.



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