A lot of effort has gone into discovering the holy grail of zero-emission fuel — and that’s where the promise of hydrogen comes in. A team from Centennial College, including Professor Md. Ali Tarique, innovation program manager Hassan Haji-Esmaeili and student researcher Harparampreet (“Preet”) Kaur are investigating hydrogen cooling solutions that would allow internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen. Because hydrogen extraction is labourious, their hypothesis is that small modifications to an internal combustion engine would be safer, more convenient and less expensive than producing hydrogen fuel cells.
Their specific challenge is to find a way to narrow the risk of the hydrogen igniting prematurely, which makes it resist the stroke of an engine piston. (The team has also looked at whether piston movement spurred by gas can be enhanced by pre-cooling the gas).
The Centennial team is using engineering software to model and simulate how hydrogen pressure and temperature can be reduced, and its energy density heightened. They are collaborating in the work with an industry partner, a Mississauga-based hybrid energy firm called Admira.
Preet Kaur, worked on the team as the co-op placement for her advanced diploma in energy systems engineering technology. Because her engineering background was not in green energy, she had to study hundreds of papers in preparation for her research. The team, she says, has established that temperature reduction is key to adapting hydrogen for internal combustion engines. The next step in the work will be hands-on development to see if there is a viable prospect for commercialization. As it stands now, hydrogen’s combustion properties limit its use. Kaur says her co-op experience has made her “very eager to do more research” in the area.