We firmly believe that hydrogen engines will form an integral part of our future transport systems. Hydrogen engines will prove vital if our switch to climate-neutral, sustainable mobility is to be a success. As part of this, they will be especially crucial to ensuring that companies within the transport, HGV and machinery sectors remain competitive as we make this transition. The vehicles used in these sectors have high power requirements and are often driven long distances over extensive periods of time – it is in precisely these conditions that the benefits of hydrogen engines come most to the fore.
The key advantage of hydrogen engines is their use of hydrogen as a carbon-free and therefore CO2-free energy carrier. Hydrogen can be produced carbon neutrally from green electricity using the well-known, tried-and-tested technique of electrolysis. Provided that the hydrogen is created from renewable energy, hydrogen engines have a carbon footprint comparable to that of a battery-electric powertrain or fuel cell.The key advantage of hydrogen engines is their use of hydrogen as a carbon-free and therefore CO2-free energy carrier. Hydrogen can be produced carbon neutrally from green electricity using the well-known, tried-and-tested technique of electrolysis. Provided that the hydrogen is created from renewable energy, hydrogen engines have a carbon footprint comparable to that of a battery-electric powertrain or fuel cell.
Another huge benefit of hydrogen engines is that they emit virtually no exhaust gases. While steam is the main by-product of hydrogen combustion, the only harmful emissions released are tiny quantities of nitrogen oxides from the atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen. Exhaust gas aftertreatment systems combining oxidation catalytic converters, DeNOx (denitrification) systems and particle filters already on the market can be used to ensure that hydrogen engines do not have an appreciable impact on air quality throughout their lifespan.
The powertrain is largely manufactured from iron and aluminium. Since these materials can be easily recycled, a further important advantage of hydrogen engines is that they can help save valuable resources.
When developing hydrogen technology, there is no need to reinvent the wheel, meaning that the development costs and work involved will be completely manageable. For the most part, the main components and technologies can be taken from modern combustion engines already in use today. The main technological challenges relate to developing the fuel injection and tank system, optimising the powertrain components and adapting the exhaust gas aftertreatment system.
As for hydrogen engines, the challenge is finding a way to develop hydrogen infrastructure with the ability to produce sufficient carbon-neutral hydrogen. The storage of hydrogen in vehicles is another area to tackle. While this is technologically feasible, it is a complex endeavour and therefore represents a particular area of focus for the individuals, companies and institutions involved in the development of hydrogen engines.
Together, we have a wealth of shared knowledge to tap into. Many years of experience in developing petrol and diesel engines in Europe can be pooled and put to direct use to advance hydrogen engine technology. Overall, the vast progress already made and the ability to use proven technologies will help hydrogen engines to make a swift market entry.