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Energy Conversion Devices Awarded DOE Contract to Convert Small Gasoline Internal Combustion Engines to Run on Hydrogen

7 November 2006

Energy Conversion Devices has been awarded a cost-shared contract by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to continue its work on small hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines. The estimated total cost of the project is approximately US$1.7 million, with DOE providing $1.2 million toward the project.

Under the contract, ECD Ovonics will develop a low-cost method to convert small gasoline internal combustion engines (less than 25 hp) to run on hydrogen fuel, while maintaining the performance and durability of the unmodified engines.

This is a great opportunity for us to advance the work done to date on hydrogen-ICE fueled scooters and three-wheeled taxis, both of which use our proprietary solid-state metal hydride storage systems on-board. We appreciate the DOE’s support and look forward to our collaboration.

—Stan Ovshinsky, President and Chief Scientist and Technologist of ECD Ovonics

The Ovonic three-wheeled taxi developed under a cost-shared project with the USAID has been demonstrated in the US and in India. (Earlier post.)

The company sees a significant potential market for reliable, low-cost engines with near zero emissions in stationary and mobile applications which include two- and three-wheeled vehicles, lawn and garden care equipment, and small back-up generator sets.

November 7, 2006 in Engines, Hydrogen | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

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Lawnmowers, leafblowers, RV generators, etc. are all incredibly dirty currently so switching those all over to hydrogen would definitely be a fantastic way to clean them up. I'm not sure why hydrogen is the big push though, since natural gas and/or propane would be cheaper and still a lot cleaner than a 2 or 4 stroke gasoline engine with no exhaust aftertreatment.

I'm assuming it's the government pushing to get the hydrogen economy started, one step at a time.

Not to mention available, and far less complex/costly/voluminous.

Even though the article does not say so explicitly, I suspect this refers to four-stroke engines without a three-way catalyst. Converting two-strokes with crankcase scavenging to a gaseous fuel like hydrogen would be much more difficult and wasteful.

Note that at least one company has already developed a compact single-cylinder four-stroke engine (two valves) rated at 2.8kW, for use in its chainsaws. Compared to the previous two-stroke model, it cuts down on HC+NOx emissions by 78% and uses 22% less two-stroke gasoline:

http://www.all4engineers.com/index.php;/site=a4e/lng=en/do=show/alloc=3/id=2712

I strongly agree with Sid on this btw, canisters of butane (the kind used for camping gear) would make a lot of sense for the smaller appliances mentioned. Lawnmowers can also be powered electrically, as long as you're careful not to run over the cord.

For RVs, one option would be an expensive but quiet and efficient stirling CHP (e.g. WhisperGen DC). Because the combustion is continuous, it is also very clean - even for diesel fuel.

I have a battery powered cordless lawnmower that I recharge with PV. I never run over any cords.

SJC: Cool!, I push my mower.

Rafael,

You are completely forgeting Direct Injected two stroke. With Gaesous fuel you have 100% gas containment and a power density that 4 stroke engines cannot match (hand held).

Oil onsumption, with electrinic oil injection) is reduced to about half that of the 4 stroke engine trying to do the same job.

Mike

PS SJC. is the mower you bought comercial or a DYI - I would love to do one of those too!

Great. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run. ECD Ovionics, with Stan Ovshinsky, have some great ideas and its great to see them starting to be implemented.

But I wonder where the source of the hydrogen is planned to come from, if implemented here in the US? And how do you refuel your "tank" when it runs out? Propane, for instance, takes perhaps about 10 times as long (or more) to refuel as regular gas, as you usually have to deal with both the liquid and vapor forms of the propane. Cant just vent it out into the atmosphere. Hydrogen would be the same?

Also, how much would a high tech, carbon fibre/aluminum hydrogen tank, with an internal cooling system, increase the cost of a $100 lawn mower or leaf blower? Would like to find out more......

Mikey: My 83 year old mother has a battery mower and loves it. She ordered it from some catalogue (like almost everything she ownes) so I don't know the brand name. She recharges the battery, which weighs about 15 lbs (she carries it to the basement for recharge). She loves it. The battery charge lasts about 2 hours, which is more than enough for her lawn. I don't know what type of battery, either.

I've seen battery powered mowers at just about every large retailer (Sears, Home Depot, etc). The one time I looked closely 2 years ago or so they were using lead acid batteries.

I designed and made my own mower. But you can get Black and Decker battery powered mowers at home improvement stores. They are 24v, so you might need two 12v PV panels to recharge them, but it should be easy enough to do.

Will these converted internal combustion engines be able to run E85?
This would be great since, at the moment there are a lot more E85 fueling stations then there are hydrogen, but having the flexibility would be great.

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