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Ford Supports University of Melbourne Project on Hydrogen Combustion Engines

A HAJI jet.

Ford Motor Company of Australia has confirmed its support of a long-term research project by the University of Melbourne to study efficient hydrogen fueled vehicle technologies. The project also received a A$1.2 million grant from the Victorian State Government.

The first stage of the project aims to develop, build and test a hydrogen-fueled turbocharged Ford 6-cylinder engine using advanced hydrogen engine technology (HAJI: Hydrogen-Assisted Jet Ignition) developed by the Transport Group at the University of Melbourne.

HAJI is a physio-chemical combustion enhancement system developed to support the combustion of a variety of liquid and gaseous fuels. The HAJI device replaces the spark plug in otherwise standard four stroke, spark ignition, internal combustion engines and can ignite ultra-lean air/fuel mixtures which are far beyond the stable ignition limit of a spark plug. Ultra-lean combustion produces higher thermal efficiencies, reduced combustion temperatures, heat transfer losses and a near elimination of NOx emissions.

Ignition stability is achieved by relocating the spark plug electrodes to a small prechamber which is connected to the combustion chamber via a shaped orifice. A minute quantity of hydrogen is injected into the prechamber prior to ignition, thus increasing flame kernel growth dramatically. The hydrogen rich combustion within the prechamber causes a highly turbulent jet containing chemically active species to eject from the orifice and spread into the main chamber. This physically and chemically active jet enhances the combustion of the mixture in the main chamber, providing extra-ordinary tolerance of main chamber conditions.

Due to its stable nature, HAJI allows engines to operate efficiently even on poorer quality renewable fuels. The Transport Group is also studying the cause of hydrocarbon emissions under ultra lean conditions, and working on a direct injection prototype to reduce emissions even further.

Experimental results have shown that at all load points, a HAJI-fitted research engine in  gasoline mode has increased thermal efficiency by up to 41%, reduced CO by 90% and increased HC emissions by up to 3.5 times while maintaining an almost zero NOx capability (<0.1 g/kWh) over its spark ignition gasoline counterpart. The same tests when performed with a hydrogen fuel supply showed increased thermal efficiency of up to 10% over its spark ignition hydrogen counterpart and reduced CO, HC and NOx emissions to near zero levels.

Ford Australia will contribute engines and resources to the project which, along with the State Government grant, will assist with engine and vehicle development. The project will also investigate hydrogen generation and storage technology.

The long-term research project is scheduled to begin in July.

In late 2006, Ford Australia joined the University of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government to form the Advanced Centre for Automotive Research Technology (ACART), the purpose of which is to enhance vehicle development in Australia. ACART will eventually include a new engine dynamometer facility, a diesel test cell, and a world-class environmental wind tunnel available for use by the wider automotive development community.




Hope Ford and the Aussies can find an efficient way to come
up with all the hydrogen that their going to need. Looks
as though they might have thought this one out. Were still
waiting for the "Gubenator" to get California its Hydrogen Highway program that he wants for his good citizens and his "Hydrohumminator".


Ford seems more interested in H2 with ICE than others.

I don't see it myself. ICE is a relatively heavy and complex machine. And to that they add hydrogen storage and injection in the vehicle?

But the given pollution stats are impressive. I wish them well.


They would be better off spending the money on methane or natural gas engines and storage systems.


This is not so dumb you know!

Fuel consuption reduction of 40 to 60 % (partial load were everyone drives)

Reduction of know do to zero emmision levels to permit the simple use of an oxidizing cat (much cheaper that full three way)

No lambda sensor and ascociated bits to offset against a hydrogen bottle (how much is the big question????????)

and a set of simple H2 injectors. The add on costs would be relatively minor.

If the can use V.little H2 then its a really good idea!!!



PS My profession is engine design and testing, specialising in advanced fuel sytems :-)


An engineer from Brazil told me that engines that burn alcohols need to be manufactured with more wear-resistant materials in piston rings and cylinders as alcohols do not have the lubrication properties of gasoline.
If the brazilian engineer is right, I assume hydrogen engines also need wear resistant materials in piston rings and cylinders.


Thanks Mike:

I might comment that I don't see the advantage. But I almost never figure there is no merit whatever in an technical (as opposed to a marketing) approach being tried by a significant company.

You cite some real offsets if they can simplify tail pipe catalysts and sensors. And H2 in very low volume is much different from trying to distribute enough liguid or compressed H2 for use as the primary fuel.


It makes you think that, given Ford supposedly spends US$8 Billion annually on R&D & in their PR material, claim that they are at the forefront of breaking eco-friendly technology, it is strange that they have to support a foreign university in something that is akin to HCCI - a theory that will not work in practice, as the concept will result in designs so complex that it will means it will never get off the test bench.

With all their resources, why do they not produce an engine with no valve overlap - the only major obstacle to acheiving a real clean burn. Valve overlap has been an inherent flaw in the 4 stroke for over 100 years, any other industry would have recognised this.

Warren Heath

H2 as a fuel is absurd to the point of insanity. Think of the nightmare, you want to go on a long trip, normally you would bring a jerry can of spare gas with you, forget it, fuel can only be obtained at an expensive high-tech custom oil company owned distribution station. Run out of gas - call the tow truck. Even with a BEV, if you run your battery dead, you can charge it up with a $100 portable generator or anywhere that there is 120vac power. If you live in the country where you would store 45 gal drums of diesel or gas, forget it, you're screwed. How about fuel for your boat, lawn mower, chain saw, 4 wheeler, snow machine or aircraft - what an expensive bulky Hydrogen tank you have to take to a service station to fill, nutso. And what about driving in the winter in the country, where you should bring extra fuel in case you get stuck in a snow storm?

Ever notice how heavy & bulky a standard 2300 psi O2 or N2 cylinder is, and all the safety precautions for use and storage that are required for their use, well it would hold a whopping 1.6 lbs of H2 in a 120 lb cylinder. H2 is the hardest gas to prevent from leaking, and can form explosive mixtures with air in any semi-enclosed space, which can be ignited by a lighting strike one mile away. It also causes metals to become brittle, so high tech materials are needed to use it. Where I live propane gas is readily available for use in vehicles, and is less expensive than gasoline, but few people use it, because of its inconvenience and danger. Insurance companies are unwilling to insure people with propane vehicles, as there have been many explosions from propane leaks (park your vehicle in the garage overnight, next morning turn on the lights in the garage, and when (if) you wakeup, check out your garage roof in your neighbors yard.) Hydrogen would be even worse.

Besides, what’s wrong with Methanol, costs $1 per gallon, simple to produce by numerous methods including from H2 and waste CO2. Burns at 43% efficiency in a simple Port Fuel Injection Turbocharged high Compression Spark Ignition engine and meets the tough Tier II New Low Emission Vehicle requirements. Easy to store & transport. Can be mixed in all proportions with ethanol & gasoline to facilitate a gradual change away from oil products. Six times the energy per liter of H2 compressed to 3000 psi. Whereas methanol is sold in grocery stores in flimsy plastic containers (they wouldn’t let you buy gasoline in those packages). People use it routinely in Northern Countries to add to their gas tanks to prevent gas line freeze-up. It would save many lives and the destruction of property in accidents, since it burns with a very cool flame. (that is why racing cars are required to burn it or a mix with ethanol). Also dissipates to atmosphere in a spill quickly, or can easily be washed down (mixes with water) no environmental damage. Whereas gasoline or diesel, spill that in your yard (i.e. your oil tank leaks), and you’re forced to dig up your whole yard, at many thousands of dollars of expense, and the soil must be stored at a special toxic waste site.


I looked at the Tamari thesis (link above) which seems to be the main driver for this project. It looks like very good work.

But I couldn't pin down how much H2 is needed in the mode where the H2 ignition simply improves the burning of the main fuel, gasoline.

The author was interested in engine performance rather than the specific consumption of the H2 trigger. And I didn't want to do the work to figure it out from the engine dimensions, graphs and equations - assuming I could. The number may be in there somewhere, the thesis is 418 pages long.

It definitely improved performance. And it definitely is not yet a car or truck engine.

I think there may be more potential in this to improve truck engines than for cars. Extra weight and complexity might matter less there.

This thesis did not explore a potential to use low grade fuels - I am not sure what that means anyway.

The entire ICE can also operate totally on H2. The results are impressive but I just can't see H2 as a significant ICE fuel.


It is the C in ICE that creates the oxides of nitrogen and such...that is where fuel cells come in. If they can advance SOFCs for transportation or lower the amount of platinum needed for PEMS, we might just solve that problem too.

John H James

Model GGS I have applied for the 25 million reward for polution solution-I drive a ZX5 Ford---A fish has gills to filter the oxygen out of the water to use for energy for its life-Vehicles have filters for their engine oil and for their carburetors,they also have a fan drawing air through a radiator for cooling-Simply have a filter in the radiator area that cleans the air as the vehicles engine is turned on.Simply put this technology in every one of your new models--the MODEL GGS--Green Gilled Scrubber-Re-invent the model T--Every new building and home would be required to have a solar powered Ford GGS on the upper stories or roof-aircraft,tractors locomotives etc could be equipped with Ford Model GGS--I am not a scientist, Just an inventor of fishing tackle--but this is a simple answer to the smog producing problems in our large cities and Ford could could be first to creat clean air for the world-The GGS The Green Gilled Scruber--They already have these on space craft--Who is the first car maker to take a different tack on clean air.All I wish is the first Focus GGS cabriolet off the assembly line John H James writer of the artical WORMS in the ISLAND ANGLER magazine

Cheryl Ho

DME developments in China today:
Since DME has an advantage of decomposition at lower temperature than methane and LPG, R&D for hydrogen source for fuel cell has been carried out. DME has a potential of feedstock for chemicals. DME to olefins is under development in Japan.

If you would like to know more on the latest DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information: www.iceorganiser.com

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