Hydrogen Could Save the Internal Combustion Engine

13 September 22

Are you worried about the future? Perhaps the melting ice caps in Antarctica and rising sea levels are keeping you awake at night? One of the ways that many members of the global community chose to combat climate change is reducing the carbon footprint of passenger and commercial vehicles by switching to electric power.


Although EVs can be an answer to pollution in cities, it would create other problems. Some of which are battery recycling, possible overload of electricity grids, supply chain issues preventing manufacturers from satisfying orders, as well as high prices which are out of reach for many. Also, only 29% of the global electricity supply is renewable, making the green alternative less environmentally friendly than it seems.


This brings us to the option of using hydrogen in traditional internal combustion engines. The very first prototypes can be traced back to the early 1800s. Research in the field picked-up in the early 2000s, with large manufacturers like BMW introducing their prototype BMW Hydrogen 7, which managed to achieve a top speed of 301 km/h during testing.


Hydrogen ICE is very similar to a traditional petrol-powered engine. The main difference is that when mixed with air, hydrogen emits mostly just water vapor. CO2 emissions are negligible, mostly from ambient air and lubrication oil. Burning hydrogen in ICEs does produce nitrogen oxides, though, so the exhaust system would need specific catalytic converters to help reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.


The automotive industry is already showing interest in hydrogen ICE technology. Werner Enterprises have recently announced that they signed a letter of intent to buy 500 units of Cummins 15-liter hydrogen ICEs once they become available. The production is scheduled to start in 2027.


Cummins is not alone in the manufacturing of hydrogen – ICEs, Toyota, Tata, Hyundai, BMW, and Land Rover plan to introduce hydrogen powered models in the near future.


It seems that the future is still bright for the people who love the sound and feel of the traditional internal combustion engine.


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