Fuel

What are the Alternatives to Diesel?

what are the alternatives to diesel?

One thing is for sure, there is no one technological solution which is going to solve all of the issues and look into the future when asking questions like, what are the alternatives to diesel? There is going to be a suite of solutions tailored to different tasks. Parameters like time, distance and mass are going to influence the kind of solution used to transport freight.

Interurban transport, as well as tasks like waste collection, are likely to see electric power emerge as the predominant answer. Battery electric trucks are already working in this space around the world, and the first examples of these trucks are already being sold here. Currently, Fuso and SEA Electric are on the market, with a few more arriving this year. Volvo also have two electric beverage delivery electric trucks on trial in the Linfox fleet in Melbourne.

Battery capacity limits range in these trucks. This means they are okay handling local work, but need time to recharge. Battery capacity is developing fast and ranges up to 300 km are being claimed in this segment of the truck market. 

Where battery capacity becomes an issue is over longer distances and this is where an alternative source for electric charge comes into the picture. A number of technology solutions are available, but the one receiving the most attention at the moment is hydrogen fuel cell technology. 

Hydrogen also has potential as the fuel in an internal combustion engine (ICE). Gas specialists, Westport, have already trialled an example running at full torque and at rated power using its high pressure direct injection (HPDI) on an engine operating on hydrogen. The potential here is for engine makers to avoid significant investment to develop and manufacture fuel cells, electric motors and batteries if the technology can be verified. 

what are the alternatives to diesel?

Scania has also laid down a marker about its intention to pursue this line of attack for a hydrogen ICE for heavier long distance trucking, while concentrating on battery/electric for shorter tasks.

The attraction of hydrogen is that its production and use can be carbon free. The attraction for Australia is that we have the right conditions to be a major producer and exporter of ‘green’ hydrogen. This is due to our wide open spaces and abundant sunshine, both prerequisites when using solar electricity to turn water into hydrogen.

A number of other solutions may be on offer, but most will only reduce carbon emissions and not eliminate them. These include using hydrogen and other gases in combustion engines either as the predominant fuel or as a ‘torque topper’, introducing the gas into the air intake of a diesel engine can improve efficiency. These kinds of halfway house technologies may enable the truck industry to bridge across to zero emissions, weaning the trucking industry off of its dependence on fossil fuels.

what are the alternatives to diesel?

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