A national diesel additive shortage is highlighting the importance of Warrnambool's new hydrogen hub as transport companies race to keep the industry moving this summer.
AdBlue - an additive required in most modern diesel engines to reduce emissions - is in short supply nationally after China restricted exports of its key ingredient, urea.
The shortage also stems from the increasing price of gas which is the main feedstock for urea.
Warrnambool Bus Lines managing director Stephen Lucas said 20-30 per cent of his fleet required the additive, without which the vehicles could not run.
"We do have stock on-hand but we're watching the situation closely and it will affect us if we don't get our normal re-supply," he said.
He explained most supply came from overseas.
"The majority of it in Australia comes from China," he said.
"More and more vehicles purchased these days if they're diesel will generally have AdBlue as a component of the engine system. If AdBlue is not available, the vehicle can't operate.
"It's made from urea and the process that is used in modern diesel engines is the AdBlue reacts with the exhaust gasses and reduces the contaminants from the exhaust so it makes them much more environmentally friendly.
"So essentially it is an additive injected into the combustion system that leads to a better environmental outcome for the engine."
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He said the crisis highlighted the importance of a hydrogen economy, which WBL would play a major part in.
"The Warrnambool route system which operates about a dozen busses will be changed to fuel-cell electric vehicles which operate on hydrogen as part of the Hycel project that is at Deakin university," he said.
"There's definitely a push from governments world-wide to move heavy vehicles, trucks and buses, to zero emission propulsion systems - that's either battery electric vehicles or hydrogen electric vehicles which are driven by fuel cells.
"It's a world-wide trend and I think there's a very good opportunity for Warrnambool and the district to become the hub for the hydrogen economy which is just in its initial stages now.
"It'd be interesting to go from an AdBlue shortage to a zero-emission type future."
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