|High-pressure direct injection hydrogen mixture formation. Click to enlarge.|
Ten European partners have completed the HyICE project—Optimization of the Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine—three years after the project first began. This initiative, promoted by the EU Commission, has resulted in a 100 kW per liter displacement combustion engine optimized for hydrogen fuel, with benefits in terms of performance and costs.
The project team consisted of companies from the automotive industry, their supplier companies and two Universities. This project, which was coordinated by BMW Group Research and Technology, developed two concepts of mixture formation, which were approved on engines for passenger cars as well as for city buses. The necessary key components were also developed.
In addition, relevant simulation tools have been adopted to hydrogen combustion to support the development process of future production engines. Furthermore, the top European hydrogen experts shared their findings on a regular basis with researchers from the US Department of Energy. This makes HyICE the first project of its kind within the EU Commission.
Researchers concentrated exclusively on hydrogen as a fuel and were thus able to fully utilize its specific properties. Up until now, hydrogen combustion engines were designed for both gasoline and hydrogen usage due to missing hydrogen infrastructure. The sole hydrogen focus allows the technology to be optimized.
|Cryogenic port injection hydrogen mixture formation. Click to enlarge.|
Graz University of Technology, Hoerbiger Valve Tec, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, Volvo Technology and BMW Group Research and Technology developed and tested two concepts of mixture formation for this purpose: direct injection at 10-200 bar and cryogenic port injection at ~ -200°C. In both methods performance was doubled while consumption was reduced.
Together with BMW Group Research and Technology, the Swedish company Mecel Engine Systems developed an ignition system which is accurately tailored to the far-reaching flammability limits of hydrogen. This has increased efficiency and reduced consumption.
In order to make the properties of hydrogen more transparent for future series developments, the IFP (French Institut Français du Petrole) and the German University of the Federal Armed Forces developed two simulation models for hydrogen combustion in the cylinder. Using the optical engine from the Graz University of Technology, the researchers succeeded in observing the combustion behavior of hydrogen and checking the computer-aided calculation models. These models were then incorporated into the commercial calculation tool Ansys CFX, developed by Ansys Germany.
To extract the maximum benefit out of all efforts made at both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the Ford Research Center in Aachen built the transatlantic bridges and coordinated the sharing of findings between the EU researchers and the US hydrogen specialists. Alongside HyICE, the US Department of Energy is also promoting a hydrogen engine project initiated by Ford (USA). It has commissioned two National Laboratories in Illinois and California, as well as North American Universities to carry out this work.
At the recent Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine conference organized by WestStart-CALSTART and the Federal Transit Administration, Robert Natkin of Ford’s H2ICE Project noted that Ford is finding that using a next-generation hydrogen-internal combustion engine in a hybrid platform can deliver overall powertrain efficiency comparable to that of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle platform.