With all the talk about hydrogen fuel cells saving the planet, the move to internal combustion engines (ICE) that run on hydrogen is often forgotten. A number of companies are either modifying current gasoline or diesel ICE or building them from the ground up.
ECD Ovonics has just been awarded a couple of government contracts to develop hydrogen internal combustion engines. The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded ECD Ovonics $1.2 million to develop small hydrogen engines for use in scooters, three-wheeled taxis, lawn and garden equipment and for small backup generators.
ECD Ovonics has also been contracted to develop a hydrogen hybrid-electric internal combustion engine that will go inside an airport tow tractor. An award of $1.8 million is being made by the Department of Defense in an effort to help reduce emissions at airports and help in the development of metal hydride storage technology for hydrogen.
Another company that has decided to forgo fuel cells in favor of hydrogen ICE is BMW, which is rolling out 100 BMW Hydrogen 7 automobiles to select customers in 2007. Mazda has also decided to develop its rotary engine to run on hydrogen and will be rolling out its Mazda RX-8 Renesis within the next 3 years.
Hydrogen Engine Center has opened in Algona, Iowa with the purposed of retrofitting internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen. The hydrogen engines they are developing are being used primarily for airports, agriculture, mining and emergency power generation.
Hy-Drive Technologies in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada has developed an onboard, on-demand hydrogen generator that uses hydrogen as an additive to a gasoline or diesel powered engine. The hydrogen generator increased mileage and lessens emissions and is used primarily in the trucking industry.
Hydrogen Power Inc. (HPI) is developing a hydrogen-on-demand system called Hydrogen Now that will create hydrogen from water using aluminum and a catalyst and deliver the hydrogen gas to an internal combustion engine. HPI is now demonstrating their prototype converted 2006 Ford Ranger XL to the public.
With all of the emphasis on hydrogen fuel cells, its easy to lose the fact that much development is also being conducted on hydrogen internal combustion engines. This is yet another avenue to a cleaner and greener future that must not be ignored or lost in the shuffle.