Did This Construction Company Just Save the Internal Combustion Engine? - story fullscreen Fullscreen

Did This Construction Company Just Save the Internal Combustion Engine?

The British heavy machinery maker sees a promising future for hydrogen with this new technology. Is this one last chance to save the piston engine?

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British heavy machinery maker, JCB has developed a combustion engine that works on Hydrogen. As with the entire industry, pushing for electric powertrains, JCB too initially jumped on the trend and soon realized that there are some major setbacks with battery technology for their applications. They feel that Hydrogen provides a better way to go green. What does this mean for the combustion engine? Well, Let’s find out.

Did This Construction Company Just Save the Internal Combustion Engine?
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As a result, the British firm has turned to Hydrogen, which also provides a means to go green. Hydrogen is the most abundantly available resource in the universe

This is a slightly off-beat topic from the stuff that we generally put out here at TopSpeed, but is still relevant because it goes over the future of combustion engine technology. Hydrogen has quickly emerged as a critical component of the current energy revolution, that must attain market readiness as soon as possible. In conventional transportation, it is supplied into a fuel cell, which reverses the electrolysis process to generate energy and power an electric motor.

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British heavy machinery maker, JCB has developed a combustion engine that works on Hydrogen

But can Hydrogen be used with combustion engines? British heavy machinery maker, JCB has come up with a different, potentially easier solution. It might be accomplished faster than the difficult application of electric batteries for big vehicles or the commercialization of expensive fuel cells.

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As with the current industry trend, JCB has experimented with battery technology, but there are limitations to this technology when it comes to heavy equipment

JCB has a long history of experimenting with different powertrains. In 2018, the firm introduced a battery-powered mini-excavator (19C-1E), which is now available in their product portfolio, and since then, it has also marketed electric telescopic handles. For a year, JCB had been testing a fuel cell version of its 220 X model and a 20-ton excavator at its test facility.

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Recently, they developed and unveiled a hydrogen-powered piston engine, based on its years of experience. This Hydrogen piston engine is initially intended for big heavy machinery. The key advantage of hydrogen engines, according to JCB Innovation Chief Tim Burnhope, is that they can be built swiftly and economically while retaining the current ICE know-how and infrastructure. Hence, the manufacturing could make use of pre-existing supply chains. Thus, production may start in just a few years and at a comparatively low cost compared to the alternatives.

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This prototype matches the performance and operational characteristics of existing machines. These H2 Piston engines can also be manufactured on existing assembly lines

The prototype engine from JCB has a whole new guiding system (low compression, new pistons, high-pressure common rail fuel delivery, port injection), but it is meant to match the performance and operational characteristics of existing machines. A new intake system, for example, is one of the most significant changes. Considerable improvements to the top end, on the other hand, not only limit CO2 but also have significant advantages over the relatively expensive battery-powered electric and hydrogen fuel cell options.

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Also keep in mind that cars for example have an operational time frame of 300 hours annually, which is considerably lower than comapred to heavy machinery

Because hydrogen is carbon-free, the combustion from these engines produces no greenhouse emissions. According to JCB, even the trial engine’s raw exhaust has fewer nitrogen oxides than even the most powerful JCB diesel engine. The hydrogen engine will run on synthetic gas, primarily green hydrogen, and will be powered by the grid. The power plant is still fairly tiny at 360 kW, but the next step is planned to be a 50-100 megawatt power plant.

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Regardless, this is great news for the combustion engine and it has to be seen if the industry sits up and takes notice. Swipe Up to Read More.

Of course, JCB’s hydrogen engines are aimed at their own off-highway uses, but following successful early testing on excavators as engines are in far higher demand than cars and trucks, the company’s engineers, are aiming for a much broader variety of vehicles. JCB intends to create more hydrogen engines and is currently focusing on ramping up production of this new technology.

Harry Metcalfe from Harry’s Garage got a chance to catch up with Lord Anthony Bamford from JCB, giving us an overview of this innovative Hydrogen Piston engine. Catch the entire video below.


Source: https://www.jcb.com/en-gb/news/2020...

Khris Bharath
Khris Bharath
Khris is a classic car aficionado and adores his Jags and Alfas, although he keeps tabs on everything from super exotics like an old EB 110 to the latest from Lucid. Formula One is very close to his heart, and he diligently makes time to tune in for the Grand Prix on Sundays. Khris also loves his road trips and he prefers stick shift over an Auto any day.  Read full bio
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