The internal combustion engine is the most widely used and highly developed machine available for medium to heavy trucks. However, the emissions from fossil fuels cause enormous damage to the environment and health of people and nature. With the conversion of a fossil fuel based engine to run on the renewable energy carrier hydrogen it is possible to decarbonize transport while at the same time continuing to use existing high-tech know-how as well as production and maintenance infrastructures. This saves CO2 from not erecting new production facilities, jobs of skilled workers, as well as seldom and precious (mined) resources that are being needed for batteries and fuel-cells.
In this project, a commercial vehicle is equipped with a hydrogen combustion engine to test and qualify it for pre-series production. The vehicle is a two-axle 18 ton truck. The main focus of this project is on the propulsion technology. Therefore, the diesel engine of the base vehicle will be replaced by a 7.8 liter hydrogen combustion engine equipped with KEYOU-inside technology. KEYOU GmbH uses a conventional diesel series engine from the manufacturer DEUTZ as the basis for the hydrogen combustion engine and enables it to run on hydrogen.
The main objective of the project was defined as follows: the hydrogen combustion engine, including all hydrogen-specific components as well as the hydrogen combustion process, are to be further developed from the proof of concept status in stationary operation (operation only at individual load points in the engine map) to transient operation as required for use in a vehicle. Subsequently, the engine will be installed in the truck and tested on in real operation in order to qualify it as proven zero-emission technology in regard to the clean-vehicle-directive of the European Union (Directive (EU) 2019/1161, Article 4(5)).
The EIC Fund as an important cornerstone of „Project H2Engine“
KEYOU developed the first hydrogen internal combustion engine that is efficient enough to expect a similar or lower total cost of ownership for vehicle operators as they are accustomed to with diesel vehicles. With the installation of the engine into a vehicle this concept, as first of a kind worldwide, can be tested in real operation for the first time.
Due to decarbonization efforts worldwide vehicle operators are looking to switch their fleets to vehicles that can use renewable energies such as renewable electricity or green hydrogen. However, with currently available technologies they have to restructure their business model du to higher capital and operational costs of zero-emission vehicles, additionally, battery vehicles will not be able to perform well in the heavy-duty segment. With KEYOU’s technology we can finally offer end-users a solution that is cost effective, as well as environmentally sound and it does not disrupt their mode of operation. Maintenance of a hydrogen engine is possible for any worker who is trained on diesel or gas engine vehicles. Additionally, existing production and value-chains for conventional engines can be converted easily for the production of hydrogen engines, this omitting CO2 emissions, high costs, and efforts in the erection of new production facilities while at the same time jobs of skilled workers are being saved.
By the end of the project the demonstrator vehicle will be handed to an end-customer for testing and collecting technical feedback on the performance, which will be used for the production of a pre-series fleet of trucks and buses. With the hydrogen engine KEYOU enriches the bouquet of technologies to counteract the climate change and support the Green New Deal objectives of the European Union.