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Ricardo advances hydrogen engine; testing prototype at University of Brighton

Ricardo has developed a hydrogen-fueled research engine which could offer a renewable, economic and durable technology solution to accelerate zero-carbon emissions in heavy duty trucks, off-highway machines and marine vessels. Ricardo will be testing the prototype at the engine development facility at the University of Brighton—the company’s long-term combustion engine research partner.

Drawing on the company’s proven track record in engine development, and hydrogen technology integration, the test program will evaluate the performance, efficiency and emissions of the engine to assess its feasibility as a future multi-cylinder engine which could be taken into production for Ricardo’s global customers.

Green hydrogen has a critical role to play in our future energy and transport systems, particularly in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from hard to decarbonize sectors such as long-haul trucks, off-highway machines and marine. We are working with a range of clients on hydrogen and renewable fuels to reduce carbon emissions in these challenging sectors. This exciting project with the University of Brighton on hydrogen engine technology sits alongside our developments in hydrogen fuel cell systems to deliver cost effective, clean and efficient solutions for our global clients.

—Adrian Greaney, Director of Technology and Digital at Ricardo Automotive and Industrial EMEA Division

In a November 2020 webinar on developing heavy-duty hydrogen powertrains for 2025 and beyond, Ricardo engineers proposed that hydrogen-fueled combustion engines could be complimentary to fuel cell powertrains in some applications. Although fuel cell systems have the edge in efficiency, emissions and noise, combustion engines are lower cost, stable and well understood, tolerant to fuel contaminants, robust to small particles, durable and can more easily manage high-grade heat.


Ricardo suggested that current heavy-duty diesel engines could be converted to hydrogen for early-to-market products, while an optimized version could follow later with ramp-up.


Ricardo said that it had modified a current Ricardo Proteus single-cylinder research engine with a water jacket sleeve and clamping setup for a side-DI injector to investigate variable responses to lambda and EGR, speed and load, NOx performance, BTE, boost requirement, pre-ignition, knock, and overall performance potential.

The ongoing program will use the real-world results from the hardware to validate methods applied in Ricardo’s digital tools. Virtual hardware optimization and controls calibration will provide customer solutions that are more economic, efficient and sustainable.

The development of a hydrogen engine is a further boost to Ricardo’s hydrogen capability, following its recent investment in a hydrogen development and test facility at its Shoreham Technical Centre.

Ricardo is a supporter of the UK Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign—a group of leading UK businesses which have together committed to invest £3bn into hydrogen projects and are calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a UK-wide hydrogen strategy.

Ricardo is also a founder member of Hydrogen Sussex, an energy group comprising members from local authorities, academia, industry, transport and utilities committed to transforming the south coast of England into a national hub for green transport and energy.



It would be interesting if you could blend in a little diesel (fossil or bio) with it.
Might help lubricate the surfaces and make fuel supply easier.
Then you could run the cleaner fuels in urban areas and liquid diesel on the open road.
Obviously you don't get the CO2 savings of pure H2, but you would lower the bar to getting started, and that might be enough.


Heat and NOx, go FC.

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