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Why we still need ICEs

5 April 2022

Why we still need ICEs

One of the topics discussed at the Futureworx conference and exhibition in Peterborough last week was decarbonisation on the route to net zero. 

The session included a thought-provoking presentation on the relative merits of diesel and battery power, given by Colin Garner, emeritus professor of applied thermodynamics at Loughborough University. 

Professor Garner explained that as machine weight increased, so did the typical battery recharge time and weight compared against a diesel model. Indeed, a sizeable diesel tank could be filled in a matter of minutes to give a full day’s work. 

Diesel storage on a large scale is also relatively straightforward, whereas it is challenging for battery power. And to be truly green, the source of electricity to recharge machinery needs to be environmentally friendly, too. 

Professor Garner pointed out that diesel was not the only fuel option for internal combustion engines: others include natural gas, LPG, CNG (compressed natural gas), hydrogen, oils and fats, sugar, starch and biomass. This means that future engines need not be dependent on fuels derived from crude oil. 

In conclusion, Professor Garner suggested that ICEs or hybrid models would remain the preferred option for heavy plant undertaking heavy-duty work cycles. He added that ongoing research would be needed to reduce tailpipe emissions of the engines, to decrease battery recharge times and to develop green sources of electricity on a sufficient scale. 

Picture: JCB 

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