|The H2 ICE system for the threewheeler. Click to enlarge.|
A prototype three-wheeler (autorickshaw) developed by ECD Ovonics and Bajaj Auto (BAL) and powered by a hydrogen-burning internal combustion engine (H2ICE) is on display for the first time at the annual convention of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
For Bajaj, the hydrogen ICE concept three-wheeler is a step along the way to more advanced hybrids and potentially fuel cell vehicles.
A change in the energy scenario for the transportation sector is inevitable—the industry would be prudent to prepare for it.
There are synergies in the pursuit of AFV [Alternative Fuel Vehicle] technologies. This requires a consolidated, multi-technology approach.
BAL would like to be a front runner in the adaptation of these technologies, and is making a long-term commitment to pursue alternate fuel technologies with specific five-year goals.—Shubhangi Chiplonkar, Bajaj Auto
Bajaj earlier had developed an all-electric three-wheeler, the ECOrick.
There are two hydrogen ICE autorickshaw prototypes, one in the US at Ovonics, the other at Bajaj. Both are based on Bajaj’s 173.5-cc CNG-fueled three-wheelers. Bajaj is the largest manufacturer of three-wheeler taxis in India, while ECD Ovonics contributed its expertise in solid-state hydrogen storage and engine conversions.
|Ovonics prototype metal hydride storage for the autorickshaw.|
Ovonics, in essence, designed a metal hydride storage system that would fit in the place of the existing three-wheeler fueling tank in addition to converting the engine.
Trial runs earlier this year, in the cold climatic conditions of Michigan, yielded a range of 130 km (81 miles) per 900 gm of hydrogen (equivalent to about 3.4 liters of gasoline, or 0.9 gallon of gasoline). That works out to about 2.6 liters equivalent/100km, or 90.5 mpgge (gallon gasoline equivalent) US. The developers think they can do better.
The US version of the prototype has performed at 94% of the level of conventional Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) three-wheelers. The Indian prototype on display at SIAM will now go into further testing.
Next steps for the hydrogen transportation initiative include exploring fuel availability, fueling infrastructure, and safety codes and standards.
Three-wheeler taxis form the biggest chunk of public transport vehicles in India. A move toward a cleaner alternative fuel would mitigate air pollution and negative effects of climate change.
|Bajaj Auto’s projected technology development pathways. Click to enlarge.|