The Future of Hydrogen Engine Development.
One of the few fuels that produces no emissions when used in automobiles is hydrogen, which may be derived from renewable sources. The hydrogen engine offers a distinct advantage to the companies that produce vehicles and operate fleets. Internal combustion engines are the foundation upon which hydrogen engines are constructed because of their high level of reliability. It is a well-known technology that car manufacturers can include in the design and manufacture of their vehicles with ease. In a similar vein, it is a technology that is already well-known and therefore easy to use, maintain, diagnose, and service.
Many people believe that internal combustion engines will become obsolete as a result of the widespread adoption of electrification and the development of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). However, some manufacturers are trying a different strategy to lessen the impact of greenhouse gases by substituting hydrogen for gasoline in the internal combustion engines they produce.
Hydrogen internal combustion may have a shot at joining that select club at a time when fleets are looking at all-electric and fuel cells as their sole zero-emission options. However, getting past gatekeepers in the United States and Europe will not be an easy task.
At a recent press event held at Cummins’ headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, General Manager of Cummins’ Hydrogen Engine Business Jim Nebergall stated to the reporters present that hydrogen combustion “would certainly be recognized as ZEV” in Europe.
Putting together the argument for the Hydrogen Engine
Cummins is not the only company thinking about using hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICE) as a zero-emission alternative in the United States and other countries. During the height of the COVID pandemic, Thomas Korn, an engineer and founder of the hydrogen engine business Keyou in Munich, Germany, provided backing for the notion.
In an article titled “As a Large Portion of the Vehicles That Are Currently Being Produced Still Have Combustion Engines, the Engine Itself Must Become an Essential Means of Combating the Climate Crisis,” which was published in June 2020 on Springer.com, a scholarly publication that focuses on Scientific, Technical, and Medical Topics, Korn wrote, “The Engine Itself Must Become an Essential Means of Combating the Climate Crisis.”
According to Korn, who said, “This has been acknowledged by the EU, which qualifies vehicles with combustion engines as zero-emission vehicles provided their emission levels are below 1 g CO2/kWh.” “This is feasible by utilizing cutting-edge internal combustion engines that run on hydrogen.” “CONVERSION TO HYDROGEN INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES” [TRANSITIONING]
Hydrogen engines are reliable, contain familiar technology, and bring environmental benefits. This paves the way for hydrogen engines to become operationally and economically viable in the future.
In the meantime, two areas frequently spring to mind as possible obstacles in the process of shifting to hydrogen-powered engines.
The first option is storage aboard the vehicle. Cost-effective methods of hydrogen storage onboard are required for hydrogen-powered cars. Recent developments have resulted in the formation of a new joint venture between Cummins Inc. and NPROXX, a market leader in the field of hydrogen storage and transportation for hydrogen storage tanks. Applications on highways and railroads will benefit from the hydrogen and compressed natural gas storage products that will be provided by this joint venture.
The second concern is the maintenance of existing infrastructure. Automobiles and trucks powered by hydrogen can only be driven in areas where the fuel is readily available. Trucking then becomes an excellent initial use-case for hydrogen engines, which is something that will be discussed further in the following section.
In spite of the progress that has been made, it has not been simple to persuade legislators to include hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICE) in the mix along with zero-emission all-electric and fuel cell vehicles. This is because hydrogen ICE still emit pollutants, albeit in lower numbers compared to conventional diesel and gasoline engines.
In its pursuit of zero-emission vehicles, the European Union held a vote last week to prohibit the use of hydrogen and other environmentally friendly internal combustion engine fuels. The CCJ had contacted the EU to request views on hydrogen combustion in commercial trucks, but it had not received a response by the deadline.
In the meanwhile, those in charge of making decisions at CARB will continue to evaluate hydrogen combustion on an engine-by-engine basis.
Cummins 15-liter hydrogen engine, driver side rear Jim Nebergall, general manager of hydrogen engine business at Cummins, indicated that the EPA and CARB have not properly processed this technology to grasp it. “Are they going to refer to it as a ZEV? They want to put it in that category, do they? Or does it only qualify as a ZEV in part? They are making their way through that challenge. Cummins “I think the industry would benefit if they did classify it as [ZEV].”
Even if the process of extending compliance to select hydrogen engines in the past by CARB wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, the agency has a history of doing so.
According to Larios’s explanation, “under previous light-duty ZEV standards, we enabled internal combustion engine H2 fuelled vehicles to earn credits towards compliance; nonetheless, they were still not counted as true ZEVs.”
Larios continued by saying that “our rationale was that a population of such vehicles would be able to run on a more renewable fuel (assuming a future where H2 is produced through a better process to be considered renewable/clean energy) and that they could bolster the demand for H2 infrastructure along with fuel cell electric vehicles.” However, “no manufacturer ever really used these provisions.”
Applications of the Hydrogen Engine
What kinds of motor vehicles may we anticipate seeing hydrogen propulsion systems installed in significant numbers?
In contrast to what has been believed for decades, it is not likely to be personal automobiles; rather, it appears that battery electric technology is the preferable choice for the application in question.
It is likely that in the coming decade, buses and long-haul trucks running on hydrogen are going to become a common sight. These come as a complement to battery-electric buses and trucks that are also economically and operationally viable on certain mission profiles and applications. There are a variety of mission profiles and applications that could benefit from battery-electric buses and trucks.
Off-road vehicles, construction equipment, agricultural machinery, and even ships powered by hydrogen engines are all on the verge of becoming commonplace. These are the kinds of applications that are most likely going to be difficult to electrify because of the use cases and mission profiles they have.
Another use case for the near-term deployment of hydrogen engines to produce energy is power production applications.
ENGINES RUNNING ON HYDROGEN AND FUEL CELLS
Although they are quite distinct technologies, hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen engines both accomplish the same goal, which is to provide propulsion to a vehicle using hydrogen.
Both of these technologies are useful in their own right, but complement one another by catering to distinct sets of end-user requirements and applications.
Fuel cells are a relatively recent development in the field of technology.
The hydrogen fueling infrastructure developed for the applications of one can serve the applications of the other, and any development toward more cost-effective onboard hydrogen storage is entirely applicable to both types of engines. Hydrogen engines are simply modified versions of internal combustion engines.
The Application of the Hydrogen Engine in Practice
Toyota Hydrogen Engines
Hydrogen engines produce power through the combustion of hydrogen using fuel supply and injection systems that have been modified from those used with gasoline engines, except for the combustion of minute amounts of engine oil during driving, which is also the case with gasoline engines. Fuel cell electrified vehicles (FCEVs), such as Toyota’s Mirai, use a fuel cell in which hydrogen chemically reacts with oxygen in the air to produce electricity that powers an electric motor.
In hydrogen engines, combustion happens at a faster rate than in gasoline engines, which results in a characteristic of good responsiveness. In addition to having excellent performance in terms of their impact on the environment, hydrogen engines also have the potential to convey the fun of driving through sounds and vibrations.
When it comes to safety, Toyota intends to apply the technologies and know-how that it has accumulated through the development of fuel cell vehicles and the commercialization of the Mirai. Toyota has been engaged in the innovation of engine technology for a long time. In addition, it is applying in production vehicles the technologies that it has continued to refine through its participation in motorsports, with the GR Yaris launched last September being one example.
While aiming to expand hydrogen infrastructure by promoting hydrogen use, Toyota intends to continue to advance efforts for economic recovery and revitalization of the Tohoku region together with all parties concerned. The hydrogen-engine-powered race vehicle that was announced today is expected to be fueled during races using hydrogen produced at the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture.
Toyota has been stepping up its efforts to get closer to its goal of becoming carbon neutral. For example, the company is working to increase the use of hydrogen by increasing the market share of fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and other products that are powered by fuel cells. Additionally, Toyota plans to further develop its hydrogen-engine technologies through participation in motorsports in order to work toward the creation of an even more hydrogen-based society.
Porsche Hydrogen Engines
Porsche is making significant investments in alternative powertrain technology and has just recently finished a simulated test of an engine fueled by hydrogen.
Porsche used its 4.4-liter V8 as a starting point for the virtual study, modifying it to withstand a higher compression ratio and combustion. The manufacturer simulated a large luxury vehicle driving around the Nurburgring Nordschleife with the powertrain, and it completed a lap of the circuit in eight minutes and 20.2 seconds (261 kilometers per hour).
The car manufacturer found out that the turbochargers needed to provide twice as much air mass, but because of the lower exhaust gas temperatures, this proved to be impossible. As a result, Porsche had no choice but to install electronically assisted turbochargers.
Porsche claims that the hydrogen engine produces around 590 horsepower (440 kilowatts), which is comparable to its gas-powered equivalent. Porsche simulated the engine in a vehicle weighing a hefty 5,842 pounds (2,650 kilograms), which puts the car in Cayenne territory. However, the engine isn’t lacking in power.
The simulation performed by Porsche showed that the engine would be able to meet the Euro 7 emissions standards. The hydrogen engine is more complicated and expensive than a conventional gasoline engine; however, it would not require an aftertreatment system for the exhaust gas. This makes the hydrogen engine comparable to the gas one.
The automobile manufacturer has stated that it does not have any plans to put the engine into production “in its current form.” However, that wasn’t the project’s goal, as the company used the test to examine the potential of the technology. The study helped Porsche “gain valuable insights” about high-performance hydrogen engines.