A Direct Injection Carbon Engine (DICE) is a specially adapted diesel engine that uses coal and carbon-based slurry as fuel. We have developed a range of fuels that maximise electricity generation and extend the life of the engine.

The challenge

Lowering emissions

Important changes to economic, technology and industry drivers have contributed to a renewed interest in the commercial development of DICE, including the introduction of carbon penalties, changes to the structure of the electricity supply industry, energy security issues, a shortage of cooling water and the need to support greater renewable energy penetration in the energy mix.

A man standing beside a DICE engine (a large piece of metal machinery).


Our DICE research program has been underway for four years with the goals of developing the DICE concept, obtaining fundamental data for key process steps and producing fuel for engine tests.

Our response

Cleaner coal technologies

CSIRO’s DICE research program is developing the DICE concept, obtaining fundamental data for key process steps and producing fuel for engine tests. The technology involves converting coal and other carbon sources into a water-based slurry called micronised refined carbon (MRC).  MRC looks like black water-based paint.

DICE offers a number of advantages that address current energy challenges:

  • reduction in COintensity of around 20 – 30 per cent for black coal and 30 – 50 per cent for brown coals (depending on whether DICE is used for new or replacement of old coal generation capacity)
  • high efficiency at small unit size resulting lower capital cost
  • suitability for base load, peaking and backup duties
  • capable of using a diverse range of fuels including biomass and black and brown coals
  • fast start-up can underpin the integration of renewables in the electricity grid, particularly those which are intermittent such as wind, solar and seasonal biofuels.

The results

Pilot scale testing and development

The DICE research team has delivered a number of significant outcomes that contribute to the ongoing development of the technology:

  • completed pilot scale testing to produce fuel for larger scale injection and engine tests
  • successful operation of the laboratory engine using MRC to achieve efficiencies similar to diesel operation
  • suitable MRC has been produced from 17 coals (black, brown, tailings and biochar)
  • solutions have been developed for adapting fuel systems and managing engine wear
  • developed a new method of coal processing to produce MRC fuel by reinventing the physical cleaning process.

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