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Old school cars on Hydrogen?

Hi folks

Welcome back to this weeks post on “old school cars”.
I came across a very interesting article this week about the use of hydrogen as a substitute for fuel. Rather than try and summarise the content I thought it would be better left untouched, here it is in its entirety…

Hydrogen Fuel Conversion

Saturday 11 December 2004

Just 20% of hydrogen mixed with normal diesel fuel will instantly reduce emissions by a whopping 40%. Dr Vishy Karri at the University of Tasmania is working on this technology as an add-on to existing vehicles – starting with a postie’s bike.
Program Transcript

Vishy Karri: We have a series of automotive applications. For example, we are converting an Australian postie’s bike, which is a Honda 110cc engine running on pure hydrogen – that’s one of the applications. And the other one is highlighting the remote area power supplies, which is like you take a large infrastructure of diesel engines on islands and what we have done in the lab is, we mix diesel with hydrogen and we give 20%, 30% hydrogen as a fuel mix via this specially designed injectors into the diesel engines and we see a 50% reduction in emissions.

Robyn Williams: What is emitted, actually?

Vishy Karri: We do have hydrocarbons, I mean diesel engines are notorious for spitting out hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide and nitrous oxides and with this new technology we are able to mix 20$ to 30% of hydrogen along with the diesel, we are able to reduce those emissions by 50%. And this is quite significant because there is a large amount of established diesel infrastructure in remote areas on islands at the moment and I see sort of this technology as an ‘add on’ to something that’s already available rather than having to throw everything out of the door and saying, look, I’m coming up with something new and take this on. And I think that’s a significant difference there.

Robyn Williams: Absolutely significant because you can get as you say 30%, 40% better results almost immediately. But what about that postie’s bike that’s obviously built for ordinary petrol, how do you adapt it to use hydrogen?

Vishy Karri: The rate at which the hydrogen flows into the combustion chambers; the way we take the air intake designs, and that is all ‘in house’, we built it ourselves. So that’s an intellectual property that we built in Tasmania.

Robyn Williams: Isn’t that excellent, but you say, you’re going to have proper trials you hope. How will you adapt, I mean, will you have a little tank on the bike or what, what’ll it look like?

Vishy Karri: Well, I get that question all the time, Robyn. There are three ways we can do that: we can put a compressed hydrogen tank at the bank, or we can use a liquid hydrogen just like our expensive BMW technology, which I think is out of the question for this. What we are thinking of using is metal hydride. And this metal hydride, we released Australia’s first fuel cell driven scooter in Tasmania about a month ago and we now have the technology where this little hydride cylinder stores up to 370 litres of hydrogen and this can help us to, sort of, take it for a spin for 2 hours at 22 kilometres an hour for the fuel of the scooter. But we are trying to use the same technology, the same storage of hydrogen, that is metal hydrides, to put at the back on these postie bikes and then run them for a trial for a couple of hours. It’s just like a battery, it’s as simple as – I run out of hydrogen from the metal hydride, I can take it to a refuelling place and then I put a pipe in there; it takes half an hour to fill the hydrogen. So it is as simple as that and fortunately that technology is available.

Robyn Williams: But do you think people will have the patience to wait half an hour when in fact refuelling takes them what – 5 minutes.

Vishy Karri: Any transition to technology we have to go through this sort of compromise, I think. Anything that’s coming up new we have to make some compromises generally and waiting 30 minutes is better than spending $5 a litre on petrol, I think.

Robyn Williams: Absolutely, it’s going to cost as fortune, isn’t it? But what are the overall advantages of the hydrogen technology as you see them for Australia in the future?

Vishy Karri: The fact that we are able to understand the research and development behind it and how we are able to build it ourselves. I’m actually very proud to say that we now know the technology, how to do it ourselves in Australia. I mean that’s a great start. There is a huge pressure on all of us basically, all scientists and engineers, to come up with those alternative fuels that would make a lot more viable future, and hydrogen is abundant, it’s readily available, all we need is water. And this looks like an immediate possible solution and we’ve been working on it now for some time and I’m very hopeful that a hydrogen economy and hydrogen future is not very far away.
Guests on this program:

Dr Vishy Karri
Senior Lecturer
Civil & Mechanical Engineering
University of Tasmania


Presenter: Robyn Williams
Producer: Polly Rickard and David Fisher.

Imagine how much this would help in the saving of many classic old school cars destined for the scrap yard. Lets face it with the cost of fuel constanty going up it,s getting harder and harder to spend the extra bucks on your restoration projects. Here is a product that could be at the forefront of this amazing new technology,

Get on over to here and check it out.


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