10 Companies Deeply Invested In Hydrogen Combustion Engines
By Sourced Externally
February 6, 2024
Hydrogen combustion engine technology is gradually emerging as a viable solution in the pursuit of sustainable transportation solutions. With governments doing everything to reduce carbon footprints, hydrogen’s potential as a clean and efficient energy source has come to the fore, with companies like Toyota and Honda investing in its development.
Most investments in hydrogen as a sustainable resource have been in the fuel-cell segment, but hydrogen combustion engines are also expected to have the ability to produce zero greenhouse gas emissions. When hydrogen is combusted in an engine, the byproduct is water vapor, sometimes mixed with nitrous oxide, and with continued innovation and investment in the technology, it could become a highly attractive alternative to traditional internal combustion engines, as well as battery-electric and fuel-cell technology.
Some companies like Toyota and Volvo are investing in ongoing research and development efforts to maximize the efficiency of hydrogen combustion engines, and companies like Kawasaki have come up with innovations such as supercharging and direct fuel injection techniques aimed at optimizing performance and range. Although more advancements in hydrogen storage technology need to be made, like high-pressure tanks and solid-state storage solutions, companies are working towards addressing the challenge of hydrogen’s lower energy density compared to traditional fuels.
Toyota participated in the Super Taikyu endurance races in Japan to accelerate the vehicle’s development
In the process, it created a 24 percent increase in combustion power, a 33 percent surge in torque, a 30 percent extended range, and a reduction in refueling time from five minutes to just 90 seconds. The 1.6-liter three-cylinder turbo engine featured a high-pressure hydrogen direct injection technology.
The GR Corolla H2 embodies Toyota’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of eco-friendly automotive engineering. With real-world evaluation and digital development ongoing, winter testing is expected in northern Japan.
According to recent developments, Honda’s stance on hydrogen combustion engines has seen a significant shift. Honda is now actively engaged in a collaborative project dubbed HySE (Hydrogen Small mobility & Engine technology). This joint effort is exploring the potential of hydrogen internal combustion for small vehicles.
Members of the HySE collaboration:
Honda was initially skeptical about the feasibility of a hydrogen combustion engine for its cars
This initiative has led to the construction of an all-terrain vehicle known as the “HySE-X1”. The project encountered challenges in integrating the hydrogen engine, tank, and other components into a T3-standard chassis, which highlighted the technical complexities involved in the endeavor. Conquering these challenges, the “HySE-X1” was registered into the “Mission 1000” Challenge of the 2024 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
The car features a 1.6-liter four-cylinder supercharged hydrogen-powered engine, an engine that HySE currently employs in its research activities.
Revealed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans’ 100th anniversary
Bosch has been developing a comprehensive system that comprises a hydrogen port-fuel injector, hydrogen injection rail, electronic pressure regulator, and electronic engine control unit, for its hydrogen-based propulsion solutions. To facilitate the technology, Bosch joined forces with Ligier Automotive in 2023 to build a prototype hydrogen-based vehicle based on the Ligier JS2 R race car.
This hydrogen-based prototype featured a 3.0-liter biturbo hydrogen engine that produced an output of 563 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, achieved through a reworked injection system.
At the 2022 ACT Expo in Long Beach, California, Cummins showcased its 15-liter hydrogen engine. This engine is Cummins’ innovative answer to the sustainable mobility movement and is built on Cummins’ groundbreaking fuel-agnostic platform. This platform ensures that below the head gasket, engines for different fuel types share largely similar components to provide versatility and adaptability. The company has plans to put this engine into full production by 2027.
It has since achieved impressive early results, the 15-liter hydrogen engine included, surpassing power and torque targets, having achieved over 810 pound-feet of torque and 290 horsepower from the medium-duty engine. In addition to the 15-liter hydrogen engine, Cummins will build a 6.7-liter displacement engine. This underlines the company’s dedication to offering a diverse range of hydrogen-powered solutions.
NamX is a pioneering hydrogen car start-up that has embraced hydrogen internal combustion engine technology for its debut vehicle, departing from its earlier focus on fuel-cell electric models. The company has decided to utilize a hydrogen V-8 internal combustion engine for its first vehicle, although it initially marketed the “Hydrogen Utility Vehicle” as a fuel-cell electric model. This is an innovative approach within the burgeoning hydrogen-powered automobile sector.
A V-8 engine will do the duty
The company also intends to tap into the decades of investment and continuous enhancement of combustion engines, its proven and time-tested nature, an option to benefit from. NamX will make use of a 6.2-liter four-stroke V-8 engine for the HUV, which will be supplied by Solution F, a subsidiary of the GCK group. The combustion process will generate only water vapor and a small quantity of nitrogen oxides.
The prototype is designed with high-pressure tanks that can contain 14 kilograms of hydrogen. This hydrogen engine discharges water as steam via the exhaust system. The engine produces a power output of 290 horsepower and operates quieter than its diesel equivalent. This project commenced in July 2021. It is funded by 18 partners from Germany’s industry and science sectors, together with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection.
MAN provides commercial vehicles and engines. It unveiled the new MAN H4576 hydrogen combustion engine at Agritechnica in 2023. Leveraging its extensive experience in the field, MAN Engines has developed the new hydrogen-powered engine based on the proven D3876 diesel engine, with 80 percent of the parts being identical. The MAN H4576 engine is a larger 16.8-liter mill compared to its diesel counterpart’s 15.3-liter engine and delivers 500 horsepower.
The design of the PistenBully 800, the truck that currently utilizes the MAN D3876 engine, is very forward-looking, as it was cleverly designed to facilitate seamless integration with the MAN H4576, with strategically allocated space for hydrogen tanks.
MAN is also known for using hydrogen in conjunction with other fuels such as HVO, as demonstrated by the hydrogen dual-fuel 12-cylinder V MAN D2862 engine that has been powering the wind farm supply ship Hydrocat 48 since mid-2022.
Volvo Group is currently working on an ambitious target to exclusively produce vehicles and services, comprising heavy-duty, medium-duty, commercial, and all kinds of vehicles by 2040, which has led to trying out all forms of sustainability. For trucks and commercial vehicles, Volvo has made a substantial investment in hydrogen technology, focusing on both fuel-cell applications and also utilizing hydrogen as a renewable fuel for combustion engines.
To venture further into the realm of hydrogen combustion engine technology with both feet better planted on the ground, the Volvo Group has initiated a VICE scholarship project, selecting two PhD students to conduct vital hydrogen-based research at the Chalmers University of Technology and Lund University in Sweden. These students will be under employment at Volvo Group, starting from the first quarter of 2024.
Suzuki has been working on hydrogen combustion engine technology, since displaying the 2007 Crosscage concept bike. The company has also released a few hydrogen-powered Burgman scooters since 2010, which have used hydrogen fuel cells to power electric motors. IIn 2023, the company released a hydrogen-powered modified version of the Burgman 400 scooter that uses a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine compared to the previous hydrogen scooters’ fuel cells.
Suzuki’s involvement in the HySE collaboration with other players like Toyota, Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki, is part of what helped in advancing the hydrogen-fueled propulsion for the new Burgman. The prototype’s elongated wheelbase is due to a design aimed at accommodating the hydrogen tank. The company has a focus on studying the functionality, performance, and reliability of hydrogen-powered engines. Suzuki’s efforts towards hydrogen combustion engines will pioneer the movement in the motorcycle industry.
Kawasaki has been working on the development and manufacture of prototype hydrogen engines, refueling systems, supply networks, and hydrogen tanks. Under the HySE partnership, Kawasaki unveiled a supercharged four-cylinder hydrogen engine. The supercharged hydrogen engine ingeniously utilizes the supercharger to ensure efficient and optimized combustion.
It was tested at the 2024 Dakar Rally
A noteworthy challenge encountered, however, is the lower energy density of hydrogen compared to gasoline, particularly in its liquid form, necessitating significantly larger tanks for hydrogen-powered vehicles to achieve comparable ranges. Kawasaki’s prototype vehicle, which was tested at the 2024 Dakar Rally alongside the HySE-X1, has huge hydrogen tanks in the places where saddlebags would’ve been, which means, until a solution is found, luggage capacity is compromised.