Decarbonisation of Heavy-duty Diesel Engines Using Hydrogen Fuel: A Review of the Potential Impact NOx Emissions


As countries seek ways to meet climate change commitments, hydrogen fuel offers a low-carbon alternative for sectors where battery electrification may not be viable. Blending hydrogen with fossil fuels requires only modest technological adaptation, however since combustion is retained, nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions remain a potential disbenefit. We review the potential air quality impacts arising from the use of hydrogen–diesel blends in heavy-duty diesel engines, a powertrain which lends itself to hydrogen co-fuelling. Engine load is identified as a key factor influencing NOx emissions from hydrogen–diesel combustion in heavy-duty engines, although variation in other experimental parameters across studies complicates this relationship. Combining results from peer-reviewed literature allows an estimation to be made of plausible NOx emissions from hydrogen–diesel combustion, relative to pure-diesel combustion. At 0–30% engine load, which encompasses the average load for mobile engine applications, NOx emissions changes were in the range 59 to +24% for a fuel blend with 40 e% hydrogen. However, at 50–100% load, which approximately corresponds to stationary engine applications, NOx emissions changes were in the range 28 to +107%. Exhaust gas recirculation may be able to reduce NOx emissions at very high and very low loads when hydrogen is blended with diesel, and existing exhaust aftertreatment technologies are also likely to be effective. Recent commercial reporting on the development of hydrogen and hydrogen–diesel dual fuel combustion in large diesel engines are also summarised. There is currently some disconnection between manufacturer reported impacts of hydrogen-fuelling on NOx emissions (always lower emissions) and the conclusions drawn from the peer reviewed literature (frequently higher emissions).

Funding source: ACL acknowledges financial support from the NCAS National Capability underpinning program of NERC. This was in part supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, through the now CS-N0W programme.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United Kingdom

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