Our H2 Portfolio

In the 1990s, car manufacturers worked intensively on the development of a hydrogen combustion engine. In 2009, moste projects were shelved. In the meantime, the idea has been given a new lease of life on a different level and the H2 combustion engine is once again coming into focus.

Hydrogen (H2) is seen as the energy carrier of the future in road freight transport. However, fuel cells and electric motors are more likely to be used here. It seems easier to burn the hydrogen in a gasoline engine like conventional gasoline.

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H2 Technology is not new

The technology itself is not new, but has so far failed to catch on. The reasons for this include the poor efficiency of both the fuel cell and the hydrogen combustion engine and the lack of a filling station infrastructure. The latter argument is unlikely to hold water for much longer, however, as the density of hydrogen H2 filling stations in Germany is expected to increase significantly in the next few years.

For a long time, the difficult handling of the gas on board was also cited as a reason that makes H2 propulsion, in whatever form, a problem. With a view to the fuel cell vehicles already available from Hyundai in the form of the Nexo or Toyota with the Mira, this argument, too, should be a thing of the past. And a German carmaker proved years ago that even the more complex line and injection system works in a combustion engine.

In the 1990s, BMW celebrated quite remarkable successes with the H2 combustion engine. On May 11, 2000, BMW introduced a fleet of fifteen H2 cars in the form of the 750hL. According to BMW, the vehicle, equipped with a twelve-cylinder hydrogen combustion engine, was “the world’s first hydrogen car built in small series.” Running on hydrogen, the 750hL produced 204 hp and accelerated from a standstill to 100 km/h in 9.6 seconds. At the time, BMW quoted the top speed as 226. In 2009, however, BMW abruptly discontinued development of the hydrogen combustion engine.
Diesel engine as the basis

Today, another company in Munich is developing a hydrogen burner. Keyou is the name of the startup. Thomas Korn, one of the company’s founders, is convinced that “the hydrogen combustion engine is clearly superior to a fuel cell electric drive in terms of robustness, service life, manufacturing costs, a higher specific power density and less effort in cooling.”
For now, Keyou will use its hydrogen combustion engines in trucks and buses.

The basis for the engine is provided by a 7.8-liter power unit from Deutz; these engines primarily power buses and trucks. Keyou has modified the basic engine as little as possible for its purposes, but has used special hydrogen components in the ignition system, turbocharger, pressure valves, cooling system or injectors. In a first step, Keyou wants to primarily equip city buses with the converted Deutz engines.

All in all, the use would then also be a significant contribution to zero-emission locomotion, because the advantage of hydrogen combustion is that the fuel contains no carbon. In this respect, the CO2 values are less than one gram per kilometer; they could therefore be regarded as CO2-free.

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