Ford unveiled its latest iteration of a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine at the Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai.
The new supercharged 2.3-liter hydrogen engine with Lean NOx Trap (LNT) aftertreatment meets the stringent SULEV-Bin 2 emissions standards (0.02 grams/mile). The engine is based on Ford’s global 2.3-liter, inline-4 engine used in the Ford Ranger, the European Ford Modeo, and a number of Mazda vehicles. It is optimized to burn hydrogen through the use of high-compression pistons, fuel injectors designed specifically for hydrogen gas, a coil-on-plug ignition system, an electronic throttle, and new engine management software.
Because there are no carbon atoms in hydrogen fuel, combustion of hydrogen produces no hydrocarbon (HC) or CO2 emissions (although small amounts are produced due to the presence of oil in the engine for lubricant)—it does still, however, produce NOx, albeit in low quantities. So low, in fact, that in 2001, a paper out of Sandia National Labs presented to the SAE showed results that no aftertreatment would be necessary for an H2ICE to achieve SULEV status. Ford has a different position, and as early as 2001 with its P2000 concept car pointed to the use of moderate NOx aftertreatment with H2ICE.
Lean NOxTraps (LNT) represent one of several approaches to emissions control devices for diesel and gasoline direct injection engines. LNTs essentially capture nitric oxide emissions and convert them into harmless nitrogen gas. The trap periodically is “emptied” (and the stored NOx converted to N2) while the engine is running to keep the system well within emissions standards.
Ford engineers are in the process of optimizing this new engine’s calibration to deliver performance similar to a gasoline-powered engine. Limited production for real-world demonstration could come within 12 to 24 months.
First tests of the new hydrogen engine with LNT aftertreatment, produced nitrogen oxide results below the SULEV or Tier2-Bin 2 standard, the world’s cleanest. Subsequent tests were just as promising. Ford’s target is to meet these challenging emissions requirements, produce virtually no CO2 and deliver gasoline-like performance.
Ford has used the supercharged 2.3-liter H2ICE platform before—in its Model U concept car, and in the H2RV (Hydrogen Hybrid Research Vehicle). The difference here seems to be the addition of the aftertreatment, and further development of the performance of the engine.
Earlier versions of the engine developed 88 kW (118 hp) at 4,500 rpm.