Hydrogen injection device saves fuel and cuts emissions on big diesels
A South Australian company is ready to go into full production with an innovative aftermarket kit that impressively cuts fuel consumption, particulates and carbon monoxide emissions from big diesel engines, asking only for a little water in return.
The HYDI system generates its own hydrogen as you drive and directly injects it into the air-fuel mixture just before the combustion stage, altering the fuel mapping of the engine for optimum efficiency. The company claims a little hydrogen "helps the mixture ignite faster and more completely, resulting in greater power using less fuel and creating fewer emissions."
It works with a range of large diesel engines from six liters to 40 liters and beyond, and the company says it can reduce fuel consumption by between five and 13 percent, leading to return-on-investment times as quick as three months in non-stop scenarios, or up to 18 months with a city bus-type usage profile.
Its effect on emissions is perhaps even more impressive, cutting particulate emissions by between 25 and a massive 80 percent, while reducing carbon monoxide emissions by between seven and 25 percent.
It generates the hydrogen via electrolysis, taking power from the alternator and using it to split distilled water from a container that requires about two liters of water for every 70-odd hours of operation. There are no electrolytic or alkaline solutions involved, according to HYDI Managing Director John Wilson, a fact he says separates the HYDI device from others on the market.
Is there a conservation of energy issue here? After all, electrolytically splitting hydrogen from water is an inefficient process, meaning you need to draw more energy from the engine than you can recoup from the burning of the hydrogen you generate.
But that's not the point of these systems. Hydrogen takes vastly less energy to ignite than diesel, and it creates flames that propagate through the combustion chamber more than 10 times faster than diesel. This creates faster and more complete combustion of the air-diesel mix, making more efficient use of the fuel. That's where your added efficiency and reduced emissions come from, not from the energy released by a relatively tiny amount of hydrogen.
HYDI says it's been developing and testing the system since 2013, with units fitted to prime movers, public buses, garbage trucks, mining vehicles and generators around Australia, with one truck already racking up some 50,000 km (31,000 mi) of outback hauling.
Test results from the University of South Australia have confirmed the particulate emissions cuts, and it's unclear where the fuel efficiency and CO emissions results come from, but Wilson says HYDI is producing the units at a small scale already, and making plans for larger manufacturing facilities should a big order come in.
"We’re on a sharp trajectory, you only get one chance with heavy industry and we feel like we’re ready now," says Wilson. “We’ve got about a dozen units out there now, we’ve sold a few and the others are on trial.”