Westport’s idea for trucks: hydrogen directly into diesel engines. Is it really green?

All ‘IAA Transportation Hanover also talks about hydrogen, which many see as a possible solution to the decarbonisation of transport. In particular in recent days Westport presented his design, showcasing a modified truck with the fuel system H2 HPDI.

The acronym, which stands for High Pressure Direct Injectionindicates a system where the feed gas is injected directly into the combustion chamber, using a normal diesel engine. Therefore, even hydrogen would no longer be used to produce electricity through fuel cells, to then power an electric motor, but would be combined with oxygen to generate the controlled explosion in the cylinders.

In this case CO2 emissions would be almost zero, as limited only to the oil eventually consumed. However, they would remain partial NOx emissions. According to Westport, the method allows for a much cheaper ecological transition by being able to use all existing engine components, e not even factories should change much, continuing to work as always. Furthermore, the engine used in this way expresses about 20% more power and 18% more torque, thanks to the reaction of hydrogen which is more disruptive than diesel.

Westport H2 HPDI

The problem for, as always when it comes to hydrogen, the production of the precious gas, that in nature it does not exist in its pure state. Currently most of the hydrogen is obtained as a secondary product of other chemical processes, or in the green field through hydrolysis processes. In both these cases we are not dealing with emissions-free processes, and the waste is evident, especially for green hydrogen produced by electrolysis.

To produce hydrogen from water it is used a large amount of electricity, with a rather low conversion rate, due to the inefficiency of the process. This energy could be used directly in batteries conserving more than double the initial energy. If energy from renewable sources were used as a basis, greater efficiency would be essential.

However, the Westport model makes sense, but perhaps only as a side-by-side with new technologies, perhaps for companies that would need to cut the costs of the transition as much as possible. Even if, remember it well, to date a hydrogen supply is very expensive, risking to frustrate the whole process.

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About Eric Wilson

The variety offered by video games never ceases to amaze him. He loves OutRun's drifting as well as the contemplative walks of Dear Esther. Immersing himself in other worlds is an incomparable feeling for him: he understood it by playing for the first time in Shenmue.

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