Hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engines (ICEs) have been regarded as “superior to fuel cells” by Dr. Motohiko Nishimura, Executive Officer of Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

With much of the industry turning to hydrogen fuel cells to power mobility applications, hydrogen ICEs have been touted as an exciting new technology that could provide an edge to heavy-duty applications.

Nishimura told H2 View, “In terms of durability and reliability, it [hydrogen ICE] is superior to fuel cells, making it suitable for heavy-duty use on ships, heavy machinery and long-distance buses and trucks. Naturally, they are the most cost-competitive power source.”

Clearly hydrogen ICEs hold massive potential in decarbonising several mobility applications, however they can also provide a competitive edge to fuel cell manufacturers to increase the efficiency of its products, Nishimura explained to H2 View.

In doing so, the competition could drive research and development of these technologies to create more effective hydrogen power systems.

Recognising the potential for hydrogen engines in the maritime industry, Nishimura said, “In fact, Kawasaki is developing a large hydrogen engine for ships and power generation.”

With this, Kawasaki has already identified what the group believes to be the first users of hydrogen ICEs – ships.

“Engines have excellent installation and maintenance costs and, while small engines are inferior to fuel cells in terms of efficiency, large engines are close to fuel cells,” Nishimura continued.

“Therefore, it is likely that the first application of hydrogen engines will be in large heavy-duty applications, specifically ships.”

With the technological prowess of the hydrogen ICEs, it is expected this could generate even more interest in hydrogen solutions for the mobility sector.

This is echoed by Nishimura who told H2 View, “Engines have a strong advantage, especially for heavy-duty applications and large power sources.

“There is no doubt that fast progress in hydrogen combustion technology development in engines will contribute to the promotion of hydrogen utilisation and accelerate the achievement of carbon neutrality.”

Westport Fuel Systems

The potential of hydrogen ICEs in decarbonising the mobility sector has also been recognised by Anders Johansson, Vice-President of Heavy-duty OEM at Westport Fuel Systems, who identified the cost effectiveness of the technology as a key selling point.

Johansson told H2 View, “Hydrogen as a fuel for transportation is one of the most interesting options to decarbonise transportation in the future.

“The advantages of the usage of hydrogen in ICE applications is that it is based on cost-effective, mature and reliable technology.

“Minimal investments are needed in manufacturing, development, testing and time to market is short compared to other technologies.”

Johansson, much like Nishimura, believes that the hydrogen ICEs can also achieve similar or better efficiency when compared to other solutions.

“Since hydrogen ICE solutions can achieve similar or better efficiency as other solutions it must be considered as one of the main hydrogen options for the future,” he said.

Extracted in full from: Hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engines could be superior to fuel cells, says Kawasaki Heavy Industries (h2-view.com)