World’s first hydrogen-powered zero-emission combustion engine launched

World’s first hydrogen-powered zero-emission combustion engine launched
A converted Volvo FH16 will test the first hydrogen-powered combustion engine © Lav Ulv

UK-based hydrogen fuel company ULEMCo has developed the world’s first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission combustion engine.

The company has installed its zero-emission combustion engine in a converted Volvo FH16 truck, and plans for the vehicle, which is 100% powered using hydrogen fuel, to take to the roads later this year as a means of demonstrating the viability of hydrogen as a green and cost-efficient alternative to fossil fuels for heavy goods vehicles.

ULEMCo has already converted many greenhouse gas emitting diesel vehicles to use hydrogen dual-fuel, but the new zero-emission combustion engine will be the first to rely entirely on hydrogen fuel in a combustion engine with mega low emissions (MLE).

How does the engine work?

While most currently available hydrogen-powered vehicles use fuel cells, the retrofitted vehicle uses a combustion engine – nevertheless, the process results in MLE, which means the vehicle emits immeasurably low amounts of some pollutants. The use of a combustion engine means that vehicles can be converted more cheaply and quickly than vehicles being retrofitted to use hydrogen fuel cells.

The converted Volvo demonstrator vehicle will be capable of at least 300HP, can is expected to have a range of around 300km, unloaded and with 17kg of hydrogen fuel on board. While the need to store fuel means the installation of additional hardware, this is still much smaller than those required for other MLE conversions, making for a smaller reduction in payload.

What are ULEMCo’s aims for the project?

Amanda Lyne, CEO of ULEMCo, said that the project was a world first, and was exploring the role hydrogen could play in decarbonising the transport sector in a new and innovative way. Further, the cost-effectiveness and ease of conversion with this technology could make it a more viable option than others currently being explored.

She explained: “We are hugely excited about the potential for hydrogen fuel as a route to faster achievement of zero carbon emission in commercial vehicles. With this MLE demonstrator, co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, we are showing that 100% hydrogen fuel in combustion engines is a practical and cost effective option. It sits well alongside the hydrogen dual-fuel conversions that we have already implemented commercially.”


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